The Urethane Blog

Labor Market Tightens

Initial Jobless Claims Crash To Lowest Since 1973

So much for the hurricane distortions of the US labor market…

Just a few short weeks after initial unemployment claims jumped in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, in the latest week the DOL reported that filings for unemployment benefits tumbled to the lowest level in 45 years, or since 1973, as all those workers who were unable to work due to the two hurricanes, returned to their jobs.

The initial claims print for the latest week – which however included Columbus Day and thus could have been seasinally distorted – was 222K, below the 240K expected, and down 22K from the 244K last week. The less volatilte 4-week initial claims average alsod dropped to 248,250 from 257,750, Meanwhile, continuing claims fell by 16K to 1.89M in the week ended October 7.

As Bloomberg notes, “the larger-than-projected decrease in claims probably reflected difficulty adjusting for the Columbus Day holiday. At the same time, the report showed further declines in claims in hurricane- affected states. The storms initially led to a spike in applications in Texas and the southeastern U.S. in late August and early September.”

According to the DOL, the unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 1.3% from 1.4%. The Dept of Labor also announced that application slumped in the hard hit states of Florida, Texas, and Georgia. Of note, the DOL said that claims were estimated only for the Virgin Islands last week.

Finally, and perhaps most notably, the latest period includes the reporting week that the Labor Department surveys for its October employment figures.