The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits hit the lowest point in nine months last week, pointing to ongoing strength in the labor market. Claims for the week ended February 01 dropped to 202,000 vs. 215,000 expected.
- The number of claims for unemployment benefits last week fell by 13,000 to 202,000 vs. 215,000 expected.
- The four-week average, a less-volatile metric, fell to 211,750 last week.
- The labor market appears to be well-positioned to support ongoing economic expansion.
The labor market continues to show signs of strength coming into February, with 13,000 fewer unemployment benefits claims than forecast last week. The reading is the lowest since last April, according to the US Labor Department. Claims for Alabama and Pennsylvania were estimated last week, and claims for the week prior were revised upward by 1,000.
The four-week average of initial jobless claims, a metric which irons out weekly volatility, fell to 211,750 last week. The number of Americans continuing to receive benefits after an initial week of aid rose 48,000 to 1.75 million for the week ended January 25, and the four-week average of these claims dropped 13,250 to 1.74 million. Analysts expect the rate of unemployment to remain unchanged at 3.5% for the month of January, near the lowest point in 50 years.
— Whetstone Analysis LLC (@AnalysisLlc) February 6, 2020
Labor Market Trend
Hiring has ticked upward recently following a year-long slowdown, with private payrolls adding 291,000 jobs in January vs. just 156,000 expected and 199,000 the month before. However, it’s likely that unseasonably warm January weather played a role in the increase, which was driven by hiring in leisure and hospitality services and construction sites, and this may not translate into consistent gains in the future. In the longer term, the labor market is cooling down, creating an estimated 501,000 fewer jobs in the 12 months through March 2019 than previously reported, the largest downward revision in employment estimates in ten years.
However, despite the loss of momentum, the labor market is still poised to support the moderate economic growth foreseen by the Federal Reserve throughout 2020. The perception of the health of the labor market was one of the factors in the decision to leave interest rates unchanged for the foreseeable future after implementing three rate cuts last year to hedge against recessionary pressure.
Gold prices have held gains despite the unexpected drop in jobless claims. Spot gold last traded at $1,563.96/oz, up 0.40% with a high of $1,567.82/oz and a low of $1,552.87/oz. Marketplace concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak in China may be propping up gold prices, and may have played a role in the massive 17% drop in Tesla stock prices seen on Wednesday due to Tesla’s supply chain exposure in China.