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US jobless claims hit more than two-year high

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Thursday 12 Dec 2019

US jobless claims hit more than two-year high

(Sharecast News) - The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, hitting a more than two-year high, according to data from the Labor Department.
US initial jobless claims increased by 49,000 to 252,000, versus expectations for a smaller jump to 213,000. This marked the highest level for claims since 30 September 2017, when it was 257,000.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average came in at 224,000, up 6,250 from the previous week's level.

The four-week average is considered more reliable as it smooths out sharp fluctuations in the more volatile weekly figures, giving a more accurate picture of the health of the labour market.

Continuing claims - i.e. the number of people already collecting unemployment benefits - fell to 1.667m from a revised 1.698m, versus expectations for a level of 1.678m. The previous week's level was revised up by 5,000.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The jump in jobless claims screams seasonal adjustment problems, following the unexpected drop in the week of Thanksgiving. Claims are likely to remain erratic over the holiday; it's hard to enough to adjust monthly data, but weekly data around holidays which fall on different days of the week each year are impossible to adjust reliably. When the holiday effect fades, we expect to see only a very modest uptick in the underlying trend, which has been hovering around 215K for some time."

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