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Jobless Claims Stay Low on Seasonality

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Thursday, December 2, 2021

New weekly jobless claims are out this Thursday morning — the first such Thursday in the past three for these figures — with seasonal adjustments key on near-term and longer-term hiring: Initial Jobless Claims bumped up higher, to 222K from a downwardly revised 194K the previous week. Last week was the first print south of 200K since prior to the initial Covid-19 wave in March 2020. This morning’s headline is also lower than the 240K expected, which is good news.

Reporting a week in arrears, Continuing Claims has reached a “post-Covid low” (will we ever actually be “post-Covid”? doesn’t seem so) of 1.956 million — the first sub-2 million read of the pandemic era. This follows the slight upward revision of the previous week to 2.063 million, so we can see we’d been flirting with this 2 million mark for a couple weeks now.

The seasonal adjustments, accounting for increased temporary holiday shopping and shipping jobs, are likely in play here, as they also likely were for yesterday’s ADP (ADP - Free Report) private-sector payrolls — very strong at 534K — and may be for tomorrow’s nonfarm payroll report from the U.S. government, expected to come in around 570K — also very strong. Even still, if you cut out all the retail and warehousing jobs dedicated to the holiday rush, the U.S. labor market still looks quite healthy.

The White House has announced this morning it will be increasing travel restrictions from regions known to have cases of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, one day after the first case in the U.S. was confirmed in the San Francisco region. Omicron was first discovered in South Africa, and looks be be more highly transmissible than earlier mutations of the coronavirus.

It remains unclear whether it is more contagious even than the deadly Delta variant, which ravaged portions of the U.S., predominantly in under-vaccinated areas, and continues to do the same in sections of Europe, even with the new variant emerging. Most evidence on Omicron is still anecdotal at this stage, less than a week after its initial discovery.

Pre-market indexes are trying once again to fill in the gaps: yesterday’s pre-market was also up big, only to turn around and give everything back — and then some — on the Omicron in the U.S. news and continued relative hawkish testimony from Fed Chair Jay Powell regarding a speed-up of its tapering program, in order to bring higher interest rates to bear sooner than indicated just last month.

The Dow is +210 points at this hour, and the S&P 500 is +5. The Nasdaq is still fighting out of a pre-market hole, -65 points currently.

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