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U.S. jobless claims hit pandemic-era low of 293K

293,000 Americans filed jobless claims last week. Yahoo Finance’s Emily McCormick shares the details.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: First, I want to kick things off in the back half of today's show with a look at the unemployment claims report. The update we got there on the labor front showing that claims did dip to the lowest level here that we've seen in the pandemic since March 2020. For more on that, though, I want to bring on Yahoo Finance's Emily McCormick to walk us through the numbers. Emily?

EMILY MCCORMICK: Well, Zack, as you mentioned, we saw jobless claims improving more than expected, coming in below the psychologically important 300,000 level for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Now specifically, we saw initial unemployment claims for the week ending October 9 coming in at 293,000. Consensus economists were looking for 320,000. And this was also a drop from the 329,000 that we saw during the prior week.

Now, claims had averaged around 220,000 per week throughout 2019. So if we think about where claims are right now on a historical basis, we are inching still closer to those pre-pandemic levels. Now, last week's new jobless claims also helped bring down the four-week moving average for initial filings. Of course, that does help smooth out the volatility in the weekly data. And we saw that metric come in at just under 335,000 to represent a decrease of nearly 11,000 from the prior week. And that four-week moving average was also the smallest total that we've seen since March 2020.

Now, taking a look at one other key data point from this report, continuing claims for the week ending October 2. Those of course, coming out on a one-week delay as usual. Those were also at the lowest level that we've seen during the pandemic period, coming in below 2.6 million, also well below the 2.67 million expected and revised 2.7 million during the prior week. So again, by comparison, continuing claims had averaged nearly 1.7 million throughout 2019. So getting close to those pre-pandemic averages on the continuing claims side for regular state unemployment benefits as well.

And then, Zack and Akiko, before I turn things over to you, also want to highlight one other key economic data point that we got out this morning, and that was on producer prices. Now, of course, we did get the Consumer Price Index out earlier this week. That showed a little bit of a hotter than expected print on the consumer side. Some of these price pressures continuing throughout the summer and into the early fall.

But if we take a look here at the producer price index, that actually did decelerate a bit compared to what we saw in August. Also came in a tick below what consensus economists had been looking for. And a lot of that price increase was still attributable to those more volatile food and energy prices, where we saw food goods prices up 2% month on month in September and energy good prices up 2.8% month on month.

So if we exclude those, we did see that the monthly deceleration in September compared to August was actually even more pronounced, with PPI, excluding those categories, ticked up by just 0.2% in September, slowing markedly from August's 0.6% increase. So altogether, some better-than-expected economic data, when we think about the labor market picture showing continued improvement as well as some of these producer price indices. Pointing to a little bit of moderation here on the inflation front as well, guys.