Feb. 12 Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report Sees Increase 14% Above Expectations

Large group of entrepreneurs waiting for a job interview in a waiting room.
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Reversing the recent downward trend jobless claims had been on for a few weeks, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 248,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the Labor Department. The Feb. 12 week-ending figure was higher than analysts’ expectations.

The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 223,000 to 225,000. The 4-week moving average was 243,250, a decrease of 10,500 from the previous week’s revised average. In addition, the previous week’s average was revised up by 500 to 253,750 from 253,250.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 218,000 expected applications for the week.

Jeanniey Walden, CMO of DailyPay, told GOBankingRates that in a sign the post-Omicron rebound may be fading, jobless claims unexpectedly rose to 248,000, 14% above consensus estimates.

“Even so, continuing claims dipped below 1.6 million, down nearly two-thirds over the last year and approaching levels not seen since 1973,” Walden said. “This comes a day after retail sales jumped 3.8%, easily beating expectations, and two days after another red hot inflation report that saw wholesale prices up nearly 10%. With every report, the fear of accelerating inflation grows with many wondering whether the Fed’s telegraphed mid-March rate cut will be too little too late. The Ides of March can’t come soon enough.”

While the new weekly figure was higher than anticipated, to put it into context, the corresponding week last year saw 847,000 claims, according to Labor Department data.

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“These levels for both initial and continuing claims are roughly in line with, if not somewhat below pre-COVID levels,”  Citigroup economists wrote in a research note, according to Barron’s.

Last week’s four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility, was 243,250, a decrease of 10,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 to 253,750. from 253,250, the Labor Department said.

The largest increases in initial claims for the previous week were in Michigan, New Jersey, Kansas and Delaware, while the largest decreases were in California and Kentucky, according to Labor Department data.

In an encouraging sign — and despite the Omicron surge and a tight labor market — total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 467,000 in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Feb. 4. This figure was well above analysts’ expectations. The growth was driven by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and transportation and warehousing, as GOBankingRates previously reported.

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