793,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, more than expected.
The last three weeks witnessed a measure of respite after a harrowing spike during 2021’s earliest days. That reprieve may be over.
The latest print represents the first increase in four weeks. Consensus was looking for 760,000. The top-end of the range from 41 economists was 820,000, so this was nearly on par with the most pessimistic guess.
The previous week was revised higher, to 812,000. Frankly, it wouldn’t be disingenuous to just go ahead and say that what looked like “improvement” really wasn’t. The four-week moving average fell to 823,000. The bottom line is that the labor market is stuck.
This of course comes after a disappointing January jobs report, which made a joke of ADP, although not a very funny one. The leisure and hospitality sector is still in severe distress and the percentage of those unemployed who’ve been jobless for more than 27 weeks jumped to nearly 40%.
Read more: Under The Hood Of A Bad Jobs Report
Continuing claims in the week ending January 30 were 4.54 million. That was a slight miss to estimates. The previous week was revised higher.
Pandemic unemployment assistance claims fell 34,453. Ongoing PUA and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims both surged in the week to January 23.
Now we’re pointing to upward revisions from the previous week in order to claim (and I guess there’s a pun there) the latest data is favorable. “Jobless claims came in higher than expected at 793,000 but still showed some improvement from an upwardly revised data set the previous week,” one Bloomberg real-time blogger wrote.
I’m not sure that’s a healthy way to think about things, but it’s all we’ve got.
The generic narrative applies here. This increases the urgency of more federal relief, although with Democrats pressing ahead without Republicans, the market now views another stimulus package as a foregone conclusion, so at least the above-mentioned Bloomberg blogger was correct about one thing: “There are unlikely to be significant market implications from a single data point,” he said.