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Another 744,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims

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Yahoo Finance’s Brian Cheung, Julie Hyman, and Myles Udland break down the latest jobless claims number.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: But we begin this morning with jobless claims. Brian Cheung here to tell us about another 744,000 Americans filing for claims. Brian, and I ask, at what point are we going to see these numbers materially move down? As we see here on the chart, stubbornly high is a way to say the state of this claims data really for the last several quarters.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, and the direction of it is not going in the right way. 744,000 would be a tick up from the 728,000 that we saw in the week prior. And it's actually the highest level that we've seen in these initial jobless claims, since mid-March.

So again, the number is 744,000 for the week ended April 3. That is compared to the Street's estimates of 680,000. So a pretty substantial miss on that front.

Now, of course, these numbers are fairly noisy, because of the frequency of it. It comes out weekly. And it's important to remember also that this figure does not include people who are out of contract or gig work.

And when you look at the so-called pandemic, unemployment assistance claims that covers those people, you do get another 151,000 people turning to help in the last week. And when you look at those that have returned for another round of unemployment insurance-- what they call the continuing claims-- there are still over four million people that are relying on those unemployment insurance safety nets on a not-seasonally adjusted basis.

We haven't broken through that four million figure quite yet. That's been a climb down-- I want to point out-- obviously, from the 23 million that we had been seeing in the teeth of the pandemic last year. But it's a sobering reminder that at four million, we're still about double the normal levels of continuing claims that we would expect to see in the before times, if you want to call it that. So long story short on this Thursday morning, the Department of Labor showing that we are, indeed, seeing some of those jobless claims tick up and that there's still definitely some room to go, in terms of getting this economy back to full employment.

JULIE HYMAN: Hey, Brian, as we look at these numbers-- and I know there's also various quote, unquote, "noisiness" in the numbers. But if you look at this, and you try to get a full picture of employment by looking at the monthly jobs numbers, and jolts, and all the other various ISM-- various employment measures we get-- like, how does this fit into that picture?

BRIAN CHEUNG: Well, I think there's definitely been a change, just in terms of the market sensitivity to the jobless claims. I mean, we all remember those beginning, early months of the pandemic in the spring last year, where it seemed like the Thursday morning release was the most important piece of economic data that we were getting. Now, obviously, as a number of other factors kind of weighed on the economy, as we got later into the pandemic-- factors like trying to reopen, factors like the vaccines themselves-- we started to pay attention and kind of front run the types of lagging data like this and kind of more towards leading indicators, like inflation expectations and the like. Which is why I think maybe there's been a kind of pulled back focus on these types of numbers.

But of course, it's still important to look at these unemployment insurance claims, just because it does tell us, even though we're a year out from the pandemic, there's still millions of people. And then, like I said, double the amount of people returning to jobless claims a year after the pandemic that are still relying on this really important safety net. Which I think also, by the way, underscores the importance of the expansion of these unemployment claims, as we saw through the last round of stimulus. So a very sobering reminder that there's still definitely a long way to go at least for right now.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, this is Brian Cheung with the latest look at the labor market. Talk to you later on, as we get through the month of April.