The weekly initial jobless claims released today imply the deceleration in February payroll growth is likely to be temporary, noted Barclays in a research report. In the week ended 9 March, the U.S. initial jobless claims rose 6k to 229k, coming in slightly above consensus expectations of 225k. For the week ended 2 March, the claims were unrevised at 223k. In spite of the rise in this week’s claims report, the four-week moving average dropped to 224k previously. The four-week moving average in initial claims is consistent with year-ago levels and indicates that the pace of separation in the labor market continues to be near historic lows.
Claims have backed up modestly from levels seen in late 2018. This mainly reflects the passing of fiscal stimulus and not indicative of a trend weakening in labor market conditions, said Barclays. Some back-up to 2017 levels in the course of the year might be consistent with the outlook for slower growth in economic activity and moderation in hiring.
“We do not view the March claims data as consistent with a halt in hiring. Altogether, we see the initial claims data as consistent with healthy labor market conditions and further evidence that the slowdown in hiring in the February payroll report is likely to prove transitory”, stated Barclays.
For the week ended 2 March, continuing claims rose 18k to 1.776 million and the four-week moving average dropped to 1.766 million from 1.767 million in the prior week. The insured jobless rate remained stable at 1.2 percent.
State wise, changes were comparatively minor with Illinois, Ohio and Washington all reporting modestly higher claims while Kentucky, West Virginia and Georgia recorded small falls. Federal claims have been stable at low levels now for four weeks, indicative of a normalized situation after the end of the federal government shutdown at the end of January.
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