Today's weekly jobless claims showed a sharp increase of 38,000 in new claims to 368,000. This compares to last week's 330K, and estimates of 350K for this report. Continuing claims also grew, adding another 22,000 to that list.
The weekly reports have become increasingly volatile, making it hard to read too much into these weekly snapshots. The four-week average helps smooth things out. And the good news there is that new claims are actually down 7,000 to 352,000, from the four-week average last month of 359,000. Continuing claims are also down, as viewed by the four-week average, painting a picture of improvement, albeit a slightly slower one.
Interestingly enough, today's Challenger Job-Cut Report showed a relatively low number of announced layoffs (40,430 vs. last year at this time of 53,556), suggesting the four-week average in the report above is the better barometer to look at regarding the jobs picture.
Attention however will quickly shift to tomorrow's Employment Situation report where the government will release the number of new jobs created for both the public and private sector. Yesterday's impressive ADP estimate of 192,000 private sector jobs created has raised expectations for tomorrow's official reading. At the moment, the consensus for the BLS report tomorrow is for 185,000 new private payroll additions.
These national numbers are important readings on the state of the economy. But, of course, they are compilations of what's happening locally. What's the hiring environment at your office? Chime in and share what's happening where you work.