Weekly Initial Claims Remain Stubbornly High

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by just 7,000 for the week ending Oct. 31, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims fell to 751,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level. While claims fell to their lowest level (again) since March, they remain well above pre-pandemic levels and suggest the economic recovery will be slow and labored.

The report said the four-week moving average fell to 787,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

Labor said the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate dipped to 5 percent for the week ending October 24, a decrease of 0.3 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 24—also known as continuing claims—fell to 7,285,000, a decrease of 538,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The four-week moving average fell to 8,244,500, a decrease of 827,250 from the previous week’s revised average.

Sarah House, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C, said the claims trends remain only “modestly downward.”

“Total benefit recipients remain elevated at 22 million, with more workers receiving extended benefits amid long jobless spells,” House said. “The total number of benefit recipients continued to decline, but more workers are filing for extended benefits amid lengthy bouts of unemployment.”

House said the reduction in claims over the past month points to further job gains in this morning’s October employment report (8:30 a.m. ET). “With virus cases rising again across most the country, we expect claims to remain stubbornly high as localized restrictions and more caution among consumers weigh on employment,” she said.