Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Drop to Five-Month Low

President Trump speaks at U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works steel mill in Illinois on July 26, 2018. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

American businesses are not laying off workers despite signs of a slowing economy, fears of a recession, and constant chatter in financial media about ‘trade uncertainty.’

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits plunged 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 204,000 for the week ended September 7, the lowest level since April, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had predicted 215,000 new claims.

Labor Day fell during the week covered by the data. Big public holidays can sometimes depress claims, either because employers are reluctant to lay off workers around holidays or because workers do not file claims.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a more reliable gauge of the labor market because it smoothes out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,250 to 212,500 last week.

New jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs. Despite predictions that higher tariffs and rising trade tensions would hurt U.S. workers, claims numbers remain extremely low by historical standards.

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 4,000 to 1.67 million for the week ended August 31. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims dropped 14,500 to 1.68 million. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week delay.


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