New filings for jobless benefits last week advanced to 206,000, remaining below the pre-pandemic level from 2019 after falling to a 52-year low the week before at an upwardly revised 188,000—which many attributed to the seasonal adjustments around the holidays.
We expect the claims data to be highly volatile during the holidays and through Presidents’ Day in February.
Looking past the seasonal noise, we continue to see strong improvements in initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—in recent months as employers scramble to retain workers.
Our preferred measure—the 13-week moving average—pointed to a decline of 10,000 new claims to 272,000 for the week ending Dec. 11, marking the 41st week in a row of declines.
The current mismatch between labor demand and supply has forced businesses to hold on to their workers for a lot longer as labor shortages and a high quit rate persist.
The total number of claims for all benefit programs for the week ending Nov. 27 increased by 510,808 from the previous week to 2.46 million, a significant decline from 21.32 million a year ago.
All programs recorded increases in continuing claims, with the largest increase coming from state unemployment benefit programs, which rose by 403,150 for the week ending Nov. 26.