Jobless claims rise to 239,000, four-week average remains at 40-year low.
Initial claims for Americans applying for first-time unemployment insurance rose to 239,000 for the week ended November 4, exceeding expectations for 232,000.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims declined 1,250 to 231,250, remaining near the 40-year low mark. Initial claims remain well below 300,000, a level generally associated with a healthy labor market.
This morning’s release also marks the 140th consecutive week that jobless claims have fallen below 300,000 – the such longest streak since 1970, when the labor market was considerably smaller. When taken with the near record-low unemployment, solid job creation, and abundant job openings, it’s clear that employers focused on retaining workers as the war for talent heats up.
The number of job openings continues to rise as employers are facing a growing mismatch in available jobs and qualified candidates to fill them. Further, as the labor market tightens, not only are layoffs exceptionally low, but employers will be forced to compete more aggressively to attract and retain skilled workers.
As we move into the last two months of 2017, with an increasingly tight jobs market and above-trend economic growth, the overwhelming expectation is that policymakers will raise rates one more time this year at the December FOMC meeting. Following the October meeting, Fed Chair Janet Yellen sent a clear message once more rate increase is on the table before year end, and investors took note. The market is currently pricing in a near 100% probability of one last hike to close out 2017.
The bottom line is that very little has changed: the economy is on a solid growth path, labor market conditions remain strong, and a competitive labor market is a positive for not only job seekers, but is also supportive of household financial conditions and confidence, helping to reinforce a virtuous cycle for the consumer sector.
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