US Jobless Claims Plunge Most Since July

So much for the spike in US jobless claims.

Last week, data showed initial filers jumped the most since October in the period ending March 4, suggesting high profile layoffs in the tech sector and the briskest pace of job cuts to start a year since 2009 might finally manifest in aggregates and series typically monitored for signs of impending macro doom.

No such “luck.”

Initial claims fell 20,000 in the week to March 11, the government said Thursday. It was the biggest WoW drop since July.

At 192,000, initial claims are now back below the 200,000 threshold, suggesting the prior week’s increase might’ve been an anomaly — or a “false dawn,” if you’re in the “bad news is good news” camp. Economists expected 205,000.

The four-week moving average is now 196,500. Unadjusted claims fell to 217,400 from 238,800. Moreover, continuing claims dropped 29,000 to a below-consensus 1.684 million. The previous week’s figures were revised down.

Meanwhile, the Philly Fed printed below estimates, and spent a seventh month in negative territory. Gauges for new orders and shipments each dropped to their lowest levels since May of 2020, and the employment index slipped all the way to -10.3 from 5.1. That too was the lowest since the aftermath of the original COVID panic. The price gauges are back near their long-term averages. Firms’ outlook deteriorated.

The Philly Fed series is so volatile that it’s scarcely worth mentioning. The claims numbers suggested the US labor market isn’t cracking. A simple assessment says that when there are ~11 million open jobs across the economy, a few hundred thousand layoffs isn’t likely to make a dent.


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