US initial jobless claims for the week ended August 03 came in at 209,000 vs. 215,000 expected, with figures for the prior week revised from 215,000 to 217,000. Continuing claims also saw a slight reduction.
- Initial jobless claims dropped from 217,000 to 209,000.
- The four-week average rose from 211,500 to 212,250.
- Continuing claims dropped from 1.699 million to 1.684 million vs. 1.69 million expected.
The increases in initial claims were led by gains in Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The largest decreases were in Michigan, Kentucky, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and California.
The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims, a more stable indicator that irons out volatility, rose moderately from 211,500 to 212,250. Claims continuing after an initial week of aid dropped from 1.699 million to 1.684 million, and the four-week average of continued claims dropped 11,000 to 1.69 million.
The data points to ongoing strength in the labor market, even as the economy slows. While the moving average of initial jobless claims has been trending down lately, the labor market continues to buoy other areas of the economy. Hiring has slowed, but the pace remains above the 100,000 needed to keep pace with the growing working-age population.
Nonfarm payrolls posted an increase of 164,000 in July, down from 193,000 in June, with average job growth over the last three months at 140,000, almost a two-year low as the shortage of workers continues to tighten the labor market.
US recession worries are bubbling lately, but today's update on jobless claims still paints an upbeat profile of the labor mkt and, by extension, the economy. Claims fell last week to 209,000--rarely have new filings for unemployment benefits been lower: https://t.co/I8nkl9rinO pic.twitter.com/7rCgSvY9F8
— James Picerno (@jpicerno) August 8, 2019
While employment is strong, inflation pressure continues to miss the mark and remains tame, making the Fed’s decision-making process on interest rate cuts a difficult one.
As tensions between China and the US continue to escalate along with the risk of recession, markets have predicted another rate cut next month, a viewpoint supported by Fed presidents Evans and Bullard. The economy grew at just 2.1% in Q2 compared to 3.1% in Q1, with Q3 GDP growth now predicted at below 2%.
Gold prices are down today, and spot gold is trading at $1,492.31/oz, down -0.99% with a high of $1,508.95/oz and a low of $1,491.05/oz. The pullback below $1,500/oz is seen as a normal market correction following strong gains seen in yesterday’s session which may have been influenced by sell-offs in the stock market tied to the ongoing US/China trade conflict.