The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits increased last week from 206,000 to 215,000. With projections of 212,000, the increase was somewhat in line with market expectations, and analysts consider the trend to be consistent with tightening labor market conditions.
- Initial jobless claims rose 8,000 to 215,000 (seasonally adjusted) vs. 212,000 expected for the week ended July 27.
- Data for the week prior was revised upward by 1,000.
- Layoffs have not risen despite the ongoing trade war between the US and China.
The report on jobless claims released on Thursday by the Labor Department indicated that the labor market is performing as expected in the short term, despite economic headwinds and uncertainty.
The trade war between Washington and Beijing continues to impact many aspects of the US and world economies, with manufacturing in particular suffering as a result. However, there is no sign that layoffs have increased due to the conflict.
The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile indicator, dropped by 1,750 to 211,500 last week. The jobless claims report comes ahead of the July employment report due on Friday, with the market expecting an increase of 164,000 in nonfarm payrolls following a 224,000 increase in June.
While job gains have slowed down, the pace remains above the 100,000/month minimum required to keep up with growth in the working-age population, and the unemployment rate is likely to have held steady at 3.7% throughout July.
Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 22,000 to 1.70 million for the week ended July 20. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims edged up 750 to 1.70 million.
— Whetstone Analysis LLC (@AnalysisLlc) August 1, 2019
Following the Fed’s decision on Wednesday to implement rate cuts for the first time in a decade, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stated that the preemptive monetary policy easing was “not the beginning of a long series of rate cuts”, adding that the labor market is in a healthy state.
While the rate cuts were expected, Powell’s statements were less dovish than anticipated, leading to sell-offs in the precious metals markets.
The price of gold is still down following statements made yesterday by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell which indicated that the recent rate cuts would not become the norm. Spot gold last traded at $1,403.53/oz, down -1.58% with a high of $1,429.37/oz and a low of $1,401.20/oz.