Initial Claims Rise to 898K; Labor Market Remains ‘Precarious’

The labor market remains under stress, as evidenced by yesterday’s initial claims report from the Labor Department, which showed claims rising for the second straight week to its highest level since August.

For the week ending October 10, Labor said the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims jumped to 898,000, an increase of 53,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 845,000. The four-week moving average rose to 866,250, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

Since onset of the coronavirus, initial claims have come in at above 800,000 for nearly seven straight months.

In a piece of good news, Labor reported the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate at 6.8 percent for the week ending October 3, a decrease of 0.9 percentage point from the previous week’s revised rate. The previous week’s rate was revised up by 0.2 from 7.5 to 7.7 percent.

Labor also noted the advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 3—also known as continuing claims— fell to 10,018,000, a decrease of 1,165,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up 207,000 from 10,976,000 to 11,183,000. The four-week moving average fell to 11,481,750, a decrease of 682,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 51,750 from 12,112,250 to 12,164,000.

Sarah House, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C., said the rise in initial claims over the past two weeks signals the “precarious” state of the labor market.

“The risk of the labor market’s recovery going into reverse was on full display with the latest jobless claims report,” House said.

House noted the number of benefit recipients across all programs moved down slightly the week of Sept. 26, “but at 25.3 million it illustrates the wide degree of stress that remains within the labor market.”