Latest weekly jobless claims jump to 240,000

CNN Business

First weekly jobless claims jumped to 240,000 for the week ended Nov. 19, according to data released Wednesday by the Labor Department. That’s a sharp increase of 17,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised tally of 222,000 and beats economists’ expectations were 225,000.

That’s the highest weekly total since Aug. 13, according to Labor Department data.

Continuing claims, which count people who have filed for unemployment benefits for at least two consecutive weeks, rose to 1.55 million for the week ended Nov. 12, hitting an eight-month high.

Jobless claims are hovering near historic lows as the labor market remains significantly tight, even as workers flooded back after the end of the pandemic-era lockdown.

But that could change — and in short order: Big companies, especially some of the biggest names in tech, have begun conducting mass layoffs.

Still, those layoffs weren’t necessarily reflected in last week’s claims because many of the tech industry workers are covered by benefits, said Eugenio Aleman, chief economist at Raymond James. Aleman said he is looking for signs of a broad-based increase in claims from other industries where workers are not usually covered by benefits.
“And that’s still not happening today,” he said.

Weekly unemployment claims are volatile – especially around holidays – and are frequently revised, economists at Oxford Economics wrote in a note on Wednesday.

“Therefore, we are not reading too much into the larger-than-expected decline in claims,” ​​they wrote.

The average weekly initial jobless claims have been below 215,000 this year. And while last week’s 240,000 claims were an increase from that average, they were still below the 250,000 weekly claims consistent with a good economy and well below the more than 300,000 consistent with a recession, wrote Mark Zandi, chief economist for the analysis. of Moody’s via email to CNN Business.

“I view the increase in layoffs from a ‘bad news is good news’ lens,” he wrote. “So the layoffs are terrible for those who are losing their jobs, but it means the labor market is cooling, which is critical to rebounding inflation and preventing more aggressive rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.”

Zandi said he expects to see more layoffs as we head into the new year “as large companies in more industries begin to cut wages.”

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