U.S. jobless claims plummet but miss forecasts for bigger drop

UNITED STATES jobless claims dropped by 18,000 to 234,000. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/JEFF KOWALSKY
UNITED STATES jobless claims dropped by 18,000 to 234,000 last week. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/JEFF KOWALSKY

WASHINGTON – Filings for United States unemployment benefits fell last week by the most since February though missed forecasts for a larger drop, potentially reflecting lingering seasonal-adjustment issues stemming from the late Thanksgiving holiday this year.

Jobless claims dropped by 18,000 to 234,000 in the week ended Dec. 14, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday. The median estimate in Bloomberg’s survey of economists was for 225,000. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, rose to 225,500, the highest since February.

Key insights

  • Even though more Americans than projected filed for jobless benefits, claims remain near the lowest in about a half century and other labor indicators have been largely healthy. While analysts tend to dismiss swings in the figures around this time of year, a failure to return to the recent trend could spur concern about the economy.
  • The report follows a 49,000 jump in claims in the first week of December, amid challenges for statisticians in making seasonal adjustments to the data due to the late timing of the Thanksgiving holiday in November.
  • Thursday’s report is likely to get more scrutiny than usual because the week included the 12th of the month, which makes it the reference period for the Labor Department’s December jobs report due Jan. 10.

Get more

  • Continuing claims, reported with a one-week lag, rose 51,000 to 1.72 million in the week ended Dec. 7. That’s the highest level since August.
  • On an unadjusted basis, claims were about 14,000 above the level from the comparable week a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held steady at 1.2%.

Reade Pickert is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

No posts to display