Initial jobless claims fall by 13,000, roughly in line with expectations.
Initial claims for Americans applying for first-time unemployment insurance fell to 239,000 for the week ended November 18, down from 252,000 the week prior, roughly in line with expectations.
The four-week moving average edged modestly higher, up 1,250 to 239,750, remaining in striking distance of the 40-year low point.
This morning’s release also marks the 142nd consecutive week that jobless claims have been below 300,000, which is the longest such streak since 1970 when the labor market was considerably smaller.
Coupled with the lowest unemployment rate in nearly two decades, growing job openings, and strong job creation, the jobless claims data still paints a positive labor market picture. Employers maintain a positive outlook, the market for skilled workers remains tight, and the competition for that talent continues to heat up.
At this point, it’s basically a foregone conclusion that the Fed will announce another rate hike in December, but the markets have much less conviction in the central bank’s projected rate path for 2018 and beyond. The impending change in leadership of the Fed creates an opening for a potential shift in policy, although President Trump’s nominee Jerome Powell is not expected to chart a new course. Beyond that, with inflation rising only gradually and labor markets tightening, any deviation from the prescribed tightening path seems unlikely.
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