The number of first-time applicants for unemployment benefits was slightly higher than expected last week as the labor market continues its slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Labor Department on Thursday reported that initial jobless claims for the week ending September 19 came in at 870,000. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected claims to come in for the first time at 850K, down slightly from the 860K claims reported the previous week.
The department said New York and Georgia saw the largest weekly increases in initial claims. Claims in New York rose by more than 9,000 last week, and first-time applicants in Georgia jumped by more than 6,000.
Thursday’s data comes as US lawmakers struggle to move forward with a new fiscal stimulus package, something economists and the Federal Reserve argue is essential to continued economic recovery.
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called for more financial support, telling lawmakers: “We’ve come a long way very quickly, which is great. But there’s still a long way to go. So I would say we need to keep it up, all One of us. The recovery will be faster if there is support from Congress and the Federal Reserve. “
US equity futures extended their earlier losses after the release of the data. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were trading down 175 points, or 0.7%.
“The claims, arguably the most important high-frequency data point currently, have missed expectations and are up,” said Dennis Deboscheri, an analyst at Evercore ISI, in a note. “Net net, with the Fed curtailing its credibility by continually emphasizing the ineffectiveness of monetary policy and soliciting fiscal support, weaker data will have a significant impact on risky assets.”
Continuing claims, which include those receiving unemployment benefits for at least two consecutive weeks, fell by 167,000 to 12.58 million during the week ending September 12th. The continuing claims data were delayed by one week.
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