First-time jobless claims for the week ending Aug. 21 increased to 353,000 from 349,000 the previous week, which is below the 13-week moving average of 385,200.
Investors should anticipate more noise than signal from this data over the next three weeks because of holiday-induced distortions. Just as important, one would expect that a resurgent pandemic on the back of the delta variant will also cause some volatility.
About the only thing of interest in the data was the increase in claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to self-employed workers, to 117,709 during the week.
For the week ending Aug. 7, 5 million people were receiving PUA, 3.7 million were on federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation—which provides supplemental aid on top of state benefits—and 12 million were receiving some form of unemployment insurance.
It is important to note that these numbers may decline sharply in September as people fall off the rolls as federal benefits expire and are not extended by the federal government.
For more information on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.