Initial jobless claims rose 7,000 in the July 20 week to 343,000 with the 4-week average down slightly to 345,250. The trend for the data are flat, pointing to no discernible improvement underway in the jobs market.
Once in a while continuing claims, which are reported with a 1-week delay, get some attention and that may be the case to a degree for today's report as the reporting period, the week ending July 13, is also the sample week for the monthly employment report. And the data for the week show big improvement with a 119,000 decline to 2.997 million. But the decline only partially reverses big increases of 93,000 and 70,000 in the prior two weeks and leaves the 4-week average at 3.022 million which is still more than 40,000 higher than the month-ago comparison. The unemployment rate for insured workers dipped back 1 tenth to 2.3 percent but is unchanged compared to a month ago.
July is the time that automakers shut down their factories for retooling and put their workers on leave, which brings into play major adjustment issues and substantially clouds the data. Don't expect today's report to have much influence at all on the jobs outlook or the markets.
Market Consensus before announcement
Initial jobless claims in the July 13 week fell 24,000 to 334,000, following a revised 14,000 rise that the Labor Department is attributing to summer layoffs in the auto industry. Summer retooling in the auto industry always plays havoc with week-to-week jobless claims data during July, a factor that puts extra emphasis on the 4-week average which was down 5,250 in the latest week to 346,000. Despite the decline, this level is just about even with the month-ago trend. In contrast, continuing claims jumped 91,000 to 3.114 million in the latest available data which were for the July 6 week. The 4-week average was up 37,000 to 3.019 million for the first 3 million reading since early May.