Jobless Claims in U.S. Increase to Highest Level Since June

  • Figures reflect difficulty in adjusting data around holidays
  • Applications in line with 2016 weekly average of 263,000

Coulton: Tight U.S .Labor Market Pushing Wages

The most Americans since June filed for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting volatility in the data that typically occurs around the year-end holidays.

Jobless claims increased by 17,000 to 268,000 in the week that ended Nov. 26 and included Thanksgiving, Labor Department figures showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 253,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was little changed at 251,500.

Friday’s employment report from the Labor Department will give a more complete picture of hiring in November, with payroll gains projected to have picked up from the previous month’s pace. With the Thanksgiving holiday resulting in a shortened workweek, unadjusted claims were down about 37,000, less than the agency factored in for seasonal effects.

Even with the latest rise, seasonally adjusted filings are still close to the 2016 average of about 263,000.

“The data include Thanksgiving, and hence, both the early month decline in claims and the more recent bounce back could reflect problems with seasonal adjustment,” Barclays economist Rob Martin wrote in a note today. “On the whole, we view incoming claims data as very supportive of further improvement in labor market conditions this year.”

Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 91 straight weeks -- the longest streak since 1970 and a level typical for a healthy labor market. At the same time, other factors that have pushed claims down in recent years, including cuts in the duration of benefits and changes to claim-filing technology.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 245,000 to 265,000. The prior week’s reading was unrevised at 251,000.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 38,000 to 2.08 million in the week ended Nov. 19. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

No states had estimated claims last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, according to the Labor Department.

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