The Number of U.S. Unemployment Claims Becomes a New Indicator for 'Traders'! This is an Important Detail


The number of Americans filing new jobless claims was unchanged from last week's low, indicating continued strength in the labor market. Initial claims for state jobless benefits were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 212,000 for the week ended April 13, based on a Labor Department report on Thursday.

Economists interviewed by Reuters had forecast 215,000 claims in the latest week. Claims for unemployment benefits have hovered around the 194,000 to 225,000 range this year.

A strengthening labor market, which is driving the economy, along with high inflation has weighed on financial markets and some economists expect that the Federal Reserve may delay interest rate cuts until September. Some economists expressed doubt that the US central bank will lower borrowing costs this year.

Financial markets initially expected the first rate cut to come in March, which was later delayed to June and now to September as labor market and inflation data continued to record positive readings in the first three months of the year.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell refrained from giving any guidance on when interest rates might be cut, instead stating that monetary policy would need to be tightened longer. The central bank has kept its key policy rate in the range of 5.25%-5.50% since July. It has increased the overnight interest rate by 525 basis points since March 2022.

The claims data covers the period when the government conducted a survey of businesses and other institutions for the non-agricultural wage component of the April employment report. The economy added 303,000 jobs in March. The Fed's Beige Book report on Wednesday depicted employment rising since late February, adding that "some areas reported an increase in workers, and others showed staff reductions at some firms."

It also noted that although the labor supply has increased, "most districts describe a persistent shortage in qualified applications for certain positions, including workers involved with machines, trade workers and hospitality workers."

Next week's data on the number of people receiving benefits after one week of the start of aid, as a proxy for employment, will give further clues about the state of the labor market in April. Continuing claims were said to have increased by 2,000 to 1.812 million during the week ending April 6.

While still historically low, the slightly elevated level of ongoing claims suggests that it may take longer for some unemployed workers to find new jobs.