This Latest Claims Data Makes Hopes of the Market Growing Fertile! Here's What You Need to Know


The number of Americans filing new jobless claims remained unchanged last week as the labor market continued to gradually slow.

Initial claims for state jobless benefits were at a seasonally adjusted 217,000 for the week ending March 2, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims unchanged at 215,000 in the latest week.

The labor market is easing, with 1.45 job vacancies for every unemployed person in January, government data showed on Wednesday. This ratio has dropped from 1.82 a year ago, but is still well above the average of 1.2 in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report on Wednesday said "labor market tightening is easing," in February but noted "difficulties persist in finding workers for skilled positions." Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers on Wednesday that the US central bank expects "inflation will come down, the economy will continue to grow," but declined to commit to any timetable for interest rate cuts.

Since March 2022, the Fed has increased its policy rate by 525 basis points to the current range of 5.25%-5.50%.

Claims remain at near-record lows, despite high-profile layoffs at the start of the year. Employers are generally reluctant to let go of their workers after experiencing difficulties in finding labor during and after the pandemic.

A separate report from global placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas on Thursday showed layoffs announced by US-based companies rose just 3% to 84,638 in February.

According to a Reuters poll of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 200,000 jobs last month. The economy added 353,000 jobs in January.

The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at 3.7% and annual wage growth slowed to 4.4% from 4.5% in January.