U.S. jobless claims held near a multi-decade low last week as companies scrambled to keep employees on their payrolls amid labor shortages persistent.
The Labor Department released its latest weekly jobless claims report Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here are the top metrics of impression compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:
Initial unemployment insurance claims, week ended April 9: 185,000 against 170,000 expected and 167,000 revised in the previous week
Continuing claims, week ended April 2: 1.475 million against 1.500 million expected, 1.523 million the previous week
While first-time jobless claims rose slightly more than expected in the latest weekly data, they were still close to a 54-year low set earlier this month. Weekly claims fell to the lowest level since 1968 in the previous week at just 167,000. This compares to the average of around 218,000 new claims filed per week throughout 2019 before the pandemic. And the latest figures represent a staggering reversal from the outsized claims filed at the height of the pandemic two years ago, when claims at one point topped 6.1 million in a single week in April 2020.
With jobless claims rising and then falling, the Labor Department also reconfigured how it adjusts weekly data to account for seasonal factors. Beginning last week, the Labor Department resumed using “multiplicative” seasonal adjustment factors for the data. For much of the pandemic, the department has used “additive” seasonal adjustments that help smooth out large swings in weekly numbers.
Nevertheless, the underlying trend in claims data unmistakably indicates that the labor market still does not have a sufficient supply of workers to meet demand. As a result, labor costs rose for businesses in all sectors and contributed to a further spike in inflation. The March Consumer Price Index (CPI) released earlier this week showed consumer inflation rose 8.5% in March from a year ago – the highest annual rate. fastest since 1981.
“It looks like we’re in the midst of a perfect factor storm with rising commodity prices, supply chain issues and a tight labor market, so it’s no surprise that inflation is on the rise. at its fastest pace in 40 years,” Bill Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network, said in an email Tuesday.
Other recent economic data has also underscored companies’ dual concerns about labor supply challenges and rising costs. In the National Federation of Independent Business’ latest monthly small business optimism survey released earlier this week, the company said 31% of owners surveyed said inflation was their most important business issue, ahead of “quality of work” as the main concern. It also marked the highest proportion of companies citing “inflation” as their top issue since 1981.
“Inflation has impacted small businesses across the country and is now their biggest business problem,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said the NFIB in the release. “With inflation, an ongoing staff shortage and supply chain disruptions, small business owners remain pessimistic about their future business conditions.”
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck
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