Weekly Jobless Claims: A Very Mixed Report from Labor Department

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The U.S. Labor Department is, at least as of last look, not expected to release the unemployment situation and the nonfarm payrolls report on Friday due to the government shutdown. So the Labor Department's reading on weekly jobless claims may be the last look we get to help determine what the unemployment rate will be. Be advised that this report does not reflect any impact of the government shutdown and furlough of employees that started this week.

The good news is that weekly jobless claims rose by only 1,000 to 308,000 in the last week. Dow Jones was calling for 314,000 and Bloomberg was calling for 313,000 as the consensus readings. Note that the prior week's report was revised higher to 307,000 from the initial 305,000 reported.

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Another boost here is that the four-week average, a measurement aimed to smooth out weekly volatility, fell by some 3,750 to a post-recession low of 305,000.

We also saw that the continuing claims rose. This is what we call the army of the unemployed, and it is reported with a one-week lag. Continuing claims rose by another 104,000 to 2,925,000. This is worth watching closely as it has been less than 3 million for a while and the number has ticked up even as the weekly claims are coming in lower than what is projected by economists.

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Unfortunately, if the government shutdown lasts into next week, we might not to see a weekly jobless claims report either.

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