The number of Americans applying for jobless claims during the week ended August 24 rose by 4,000 to 215,000, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. The figures are in line with market expectations.
- Initial jobless claims rose from 211,000 to 215,000 in the week ended August 24.
- The 4-week average, which is less volatile, dipped 500 to 214,500.
- Layoffs have yet to manifest as a result of the US-China trade war according to jobless claims data, a leading indicator.
There was a mild increase in initial jobless claims as expected last week, indicating ongoing strength in the high-performing labor market despite increasingly difficult economic conditions worldwide.
Despite concerns that the US-China trade war would increase layoffs, there is no indication of that happening from the jobless claims data which provides the market’s leading indicator of layoffs. The trade war has severely impacted many US industries, with manufacturing and agriculture suffering in particular under punitive tariffs – business investment has also dropped due to uncertainty over the future.
However, the labor market continues to hold firm against these headwinds, with job security bolstered by the shortage of skilled labor. It’s likely that many companies are unwilling to implement staff changes now in case they have difficulty rehiring if economic conditions improve in the future.
Jobless Claims Data
215,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, up from 211,000. The 4-week moving average dropped by 500 to 214,500, and the confluence of both figures indicates stability in the market.
Data for the week prior was revised upward by 2,000, and only claims in the Virgin Islands were estimated for the week ended August 24.
The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 22,000 to 1.7 million for the week ended August 17. The four-week moving average of these continuing claims dropped 250 to 1.7 million, which, again, indicates a level of stability.
The flat activity in continuing claims indicates that the unemployment rate may hold firm at 3.7%.
— Whetstone Analysis LLC (@AnalysisLlc) August 29, 2019
While layoffs have seen no major increase recently, the rate of job growth is undeniably slowing. The government released estimates last week indicating that 501,000 fewer jobs were created in the 12 months through March 2019 than initially reported, significantly altering labor market estimates and marking the largest downward revision in the level of employment in ten years.
The government will publish revised payrolls data next February, and it is expected that the real rate of job growth averaged out at 170,000 per month instead of 210,000 as initially reported.
While this is a major drop, job growth is still well over the minimum requirement of 100,000 which is needed to keep pace with growth in the working-age population.
Gold prices have ticked upward following the report. Spot gold last traded at $1,543.08/oz, up 0.34% with a high of $1,550.10/oz and a low of $1,535.07/oz.
Gold prices may be reacting to the release of US Q2 GDP data which shows that the GDP grew 2% in the second quarter of 2019, in line with expectations but down slightly from the initially reported 2.1%.