U.S. Jobless Claims Rise on Irma's Effects in Florida, Georgia

U.S. filings for unemployment benefits rose last week on increases in Florida and Georgia after the southeastern states were hit by Hurricane Irma, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week ended Sept. 23)

  • Initial filings rose 12k to 272k (est. 270k)
  • Continuing claims decreased by 45k to 1.934m in week ended Sept. 16 (data reported with one-week lag)
  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 277,750, highest since Feb. 2016, from 268,750 in prior week 

Key Takeaways

Unadjusted figures showed applications for unemployment insurance surged by more than 8,000 in Florida to 18,212, while claims in Georgia jumped by about 3,000 to 7,917. Filings in Texas fell by about 8,200, as the state recovers from Hurricane Harvey.

At the same time, the complete impact of the hurricanes hasn’t fully emerged after some states and territories were unable to process claims or displaced workers couldn’t file. The Labor Department estimated claims for Puerto Rico, which was devastated last week by Hurricane Maria.

While swings in the figures may continue for several weeks, the volatility will probably prove temporary as those in storm- affected areas return to work. Before the hurricane season disrupted households and businesses largely in Florida and Texas, claims remained near the lowest level in more than four decades.

Other Details

  • Prior week’s reading was revised to 260,000 from 259,000
  • Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits unchanged at 1.4 percent
  • Analysts’ estimates for initial claims ranged from 245,000 to 315,000

— With assistance by Chris Middleton

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