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Initial jobless claims slowly start moving lower: Morning Brief

Jobless claims are finally starting to moderate. Yahoo Finance's Myles Udland breaks down the latest jobless claims numbers.

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: And Myles, let's get to you here because I know you go into some economic data of your own in this morning's Morning Brief. And that would be initial claims.

MYLES UDLAND: Yeah, I just want to take a look at initial claims after yesterday's print, 576,000 folks filing for-- filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance. This is the lowest number we've seen since the pandemic began. It's also the first time since the pandemic recession began that we saw claims print a number below the high hit back in the financial crisis. Now, of course, during the financial crisis, it took several years for the maximum pain in the labor market to be felt. The unemployment rate didn't peak for a couple of years and peaked after the recession and ended certainly a very different situation that we're seeing in this recovery.

But did just want to flag this claims data. And there are some Easter distortions. It's a noisy data series. We may very well see claims on a weekly basis back up a bit in the coming weeks. But this, to me, was-- not only to me, to everybody-- this is the first place that we started to see the impacts of the pandemic show up.

And when you look at that chart we just had up, this is, to me, the most shocking piece of economic data that is out there. I mean, 6.3 million people filed for unemployment insurance in a single week almost exactly one year ago. We had 20 straight weeks where more than a million initial claims were made. The total number of claims made during the pandemic is almost half of the US workforce got there if you add them all up. And, again, that's kind of a crude number and maybe not exactly representative of how much [INAUDIBLE] there was. But again, this was really the pain point through which I think a lot of people started to see the impacts of the recession play out.

I remember in March of 2020 or April 2020, "The Today Show" was reporting on initial jobless claims, if you want some context into just how far and wide this mostly overlooked, largely arcane piece of economic data had gone as a signal of where things were. And so, I think it is important to mark its improvement and also gives us a decent backdrop for thinking about other parts of the economy that are roaring back to life. Obviously, that retail sales number we got this week off the charts. And you see the growth that's happened in retail sales over the last several months, just one piece of what is looking like a very strong bounceback through 2021.

So, again, just trying to keep tabs on all the data as they improve and initial claims not something we talk about a lot in the Morning Brief. Emily McCormick covers it every week. So, again, just felt the need to flag it this week as we finish up the reference week for the April jobs report. And we'll see what that spits out in about three weeks.

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah, Myles, on that jobs report, this dive into initial claims, what do you think it says about the next jobs report coming up in a few weeks?

MYLES UDLAND: Sozzi, look, I'm a professional. So I'll say we can ask Michelle Meyer at Bank of America about that right now because I am not going to dig into the Excel spreadsheet here on what exactly this claims number is going to spit out. Again, it could be distorted. We have to seasonally adjust all these things. But we only have to wait three weeks, fortunately.