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Jobless Claims: Yet Another Week of Surprising Declines

February 2, 2023
Bottom Line:   Jobless claims surprisingly fell last week and were firmly trending lower again, having bounced in the 180-250k range for nearly a year, despite headlines about layoffs at major corporations. Moreover, the trend in continuing claims has lost all its upward momentum, with the number of people receiving unemployment insurance edging lower in January. While seasonal factors are still an issue, pushing the headline lower, they can't explain the surprising lack of any uptrend. While we are cautious that joblessness can lag economic activity, spiking quickly, it appears that employers in sectors experiencing slowness are holding onto labor more in this downturn than in previous cycles, worried that they won't be able to find the skilled labor again when activity rebounds.
Initial Jobless Claims FELL -3k in the week ended January 28th to 183k, BELOW the 4-week average of 191.75k, BELOW the 13-week average of 213.15385k and -31k BELOW the year-ago level. Non-seasonally adjusted Claims were nearly unchanged, -872.
Continuing Claims FELL -11k in the week ended January 21st to 1.655M, ABOVE the 4-week average of 1.6515M, ABOVE the 13-week average of 1.629615M but -102k BELOW the year-ago level.
Article by Contingent Macro