March 26 Weekly Jobless Claims Increased Significantly Less Than Economists Expected

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For the week ending March 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 202,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the Labor Department.

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The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 187,000 to 188,000.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected unemployment claims to rise to 195,000.

While it’s a slight increase from the previous week — which represented the lowest level for initial claims since Sept. 6, 1969, when it was 182,000, according to the Labor Department — the figure underscores how far the job market has recovered. For reference, the corresponding week a year ago, claims were standing at 729,000. It is also the second-lowest figure since Dec. 25, 2021, according to Labor Department data.

“Sandwiched between yesterday’s ADP report and tomorrow’s nonfarm payrolls, this morning’s jobless claims report may be overlooked but that would be a mistake,” Jeannie Walden, CMO of DailyPay, told GOBankingRates. “Initial claims came in a hair above 200 thousand while the more closely watched 4-week moving average dipped to levels not seen since 1969. Keep in mind that total employment was about half back then of what it is today, so in terms of a percentage of total jobs, we are truly in uncharted waters.”

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She also noted that the American worker isn’t necessarily celebrating these record job security metrics.

“All you have to do is look at this morning’s 6.4% PCE price increase which means real wages are still declining despite record pay hikes. That’s why more and more employers are offering customized benefits and instant rewards to support, retain and activate their workforces without hurting operating margins,” she said.

California, Michigan and Ohio saw the largest increases in claims for the week, while Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Georgia saw the largest decreases.

The largest increases in initial claims for the previous week, ending March 19, were in Florida (+956), Pennsylvania (+476), Oklahoma (+400), Tennessee (+328), and Connecticut (+161), while the largest decreases were in California (-5,831), Michigan (-4,876), Kentucky (-2,579), Kansas (-2,070), and Illinois (-2,053).

The 4-week moving average was 208,500, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average.

Dev Randhawa, CEO of Fission 3.0, told GOBankingRates that despite the slight increase in weekly claims, “we are in the process of pulling ourselves out of one of the most paralyzing pandemics that our generation had to go through.”

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“It is not surprising that we are still seeing jobless claims, however, I believe that we are heading in the right direction when it comes to employment numbers,” Randhawa said.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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