Initial jobless claims no longer appear to be falling
The numbers: The number of jobless workers who applied for unemployment benefits last week rose to a one-month high, but the level of layoffs in the U.S. remained extremely low.
Initial jobless claims rose by 6,000 to 229,000 in the seven days ended March 9, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 225,000 reading.
The four-week average of new jobless claims, on the other hand, fell by 2,500 to 223,750. The monthly average is viewed as more stable since it smoothens out the weekly gyrations.
What happened: The level of layoffs has risen slightly this year since touching a 50-year bottom last fall, but they still quite low.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, increased by 18,000 to 1.77 million. A year earlier, these claims stood at a higher 1.88 million.
Big picture: Despite a big slowdown in hiring in February, the unemployment rate fell a few ticks to an extremely low 3.8%, underscoring the strongest labor market in decades. Companies have had to beef up pay and benefits to attract or retain employees, leading to the strongest wage gains in a decade.
That’s helping to keep the U.S. economy chugging along at a moderate pace even as growth around the world slows.
What they are saying?: “Initial claims have backed up modestly from levels in late 2018. We see this mainly as reflecting the passing of fiscal stimulus and not indicative of a trend weakening in labor market conditions,” said economist Michael Gapen at Barclays.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.03% and S&P 500SPX, -0.09% rose slightly in Thursday trades after a negative opening.
The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.07% was flat at 2.64%.