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Claims back on the climb

February 19, 2021

Graph depicting changes in the four week moving average of initial UI claims in the payroll survey week

Source: Census Bureau

New claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose by 13,000 last week to 861,000. After an upward revision to previously released data, this marks the first time since last March that the series has gone three consecutive weeks without a decline. Still, this run looks like an outlier against a broader trend of labor market improvement. In recent weeks, expected job losses have fallen substantially, online job postings have surged, and the employment components in the regional manufacturing surveys have ticked higher from already healthy levels (the Philadelphia Fed’s employment index, in fact, notched its loftiest reading since mid-2018 this morning).

And the four-week moving average of claims in February was still below that for the prior month even after the recent upticks, suggesting a solid payroll report in early March. Yesterday’s blowout retail sales report was a good indication that, if nothing else, confidence in the labor market is picking up and, given the broader trend, it continues to be a good bet that this outlook will be better reflected in the claims statistics in the weeks ahead..

Daily Trivia

Thanks to war, taxes, and expansionary monetary policy, what was the most inflationary decade in U.S. history?

Previous Question

What country’s embarrassing request of a then-record $3.9 billion loan from the IMF in 1976 was later found to have been driven in large part by faulty GDP statistics?


United Kingdom


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