U.S. Jobless Claims Increase; Labor Market Continues to Tighten

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futures push higher

Last week the amount of Americans filing for unemployment benefits
increased, but the fundamental trend stayed consistent with a firming
labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits advanced
3,000 to a seasonally revised 244,000 for the week ended Aug. 5, the
Labor Department reported on Thursday (8/10/16). Data for last week
was adjusted to display 1,000 additional applications received than
previously reported.

A poll from economists had projected claims would remain the same at
240,000 in the latest week. With the labor market hovering near full
employment, there is limited space for claims to continue dropping. For
the last 127 weeks claims have been under the 300,000 thresholds
connected with a robust labor market. This is the longest streak since
1970. The unemployment rate is 4.3%.

Labor market tightness could entice the Federal Reserve to announce a
plan to start cutting its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and
mortgage-backed securities at its policy meeting in September. A Labor
Department official reported there were no special factors influencing
the claims data and that no states had been projected.

The four-week moving average of claims, known as a better measure of
labor market trends as it flattens out week-to- week volatility, dropped
1,000 to 241,000 last week, the lowest level in four months. The
government reported last week that nonfarm payrolls advanced by
209,000 jobs last month. The economy has added 1.29 million jobs in
2017. That has resulted in the unemployment rate falling five-tenths of
a percentage point.

Thursday's claims report also displayed the amount of people still
receiving benefits following an initial week of aid declined by16,000 to
1.95 million in the week ended July 29. The alleged continuing claims
have now been under the 2 million mark for four months, directing to
fading labor market slack.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims inched higher 500
to 1.97 million, still below the 2 million mark for the 15th straight
week.


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