719,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, more than the 675,000 the market expected.
That said, the previous week was revised lower, to 658,000. You might recall that last week’s print was the lowest of the pandemic era and marked the first time since the onset of the crisis that claims were below the pre-pandemic record.
This week’s release reflected the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors (all incorporated in the charts below).
The four-week moving average fell to the lowest since March 14, 2020.
It’s doubtful that these figures will change the narrative or otherwise prove material for markets, especially given the proximity of Friday’s jobs report and the holiday-shortened week. “By midday, expect it to be extremely quiet,” JonesTrading’s Mike O’Rourke said. “In addition to being closed Friday, most of Europe and Asia are also closed on Monday. Nonetheless, there will be an ample amount of information to digest in a compacted period of time.”
Continuing claims for the week ended March 20 were 3.794 million. That was a slight miss, but lower than a downwardly revised 3.84 million in the previous week.
Initial Pandemic Unemployment Assistance filers fell slightly. Ongoing PUA and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims were 7,349,663 and 5,515,355, respectively, in the week ended March 13.
While Thursday’s claims data represented a small disappointment, it wouldn’t be enough to alter expectations even if anyone was around to parse it.