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New Jobless Claims Slowing, Still Near 3M Last Week

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

When it’s Thursday morning, you know that means another Initial Jobless Claims report is coming out. And if you’ve been checking these numbers over the past 8 weeks or so, you know the results are not good: 2.981 million new jobless claims were made last week, more than the 2.73 million expected but lower than the previous week’s 3.17 million. We’ve also come down more than half from the 6.87 million new claims filed during the last full week of March.

So that’s more than 36 million Americans having newly lost their jobs in just under 2 months. Over a longer-term view, Continuing Claims rose to 22.833 million from 22.377 million — but these numbers are a week in arrears, and surely will rise over the coming weeks. This 22.833 million figure is also the worst posting for Continuing Claims in history.

The U.S. wants to get back to work, but it does not want to do so if it means a visit to their local hospital ICU for themselves or anyone in their family. Some states are giving it a shot anyway — reopening their economies without first seeing a meaningful drop in new cases of COVID-19 or deaths from it — and they stand to serve as either the canary in the coalmine or the spearhead of an emerging economic recovery.

Import Prices for April are also out this morning, with a headline of -2.6% lower than the expected -2.3% and the worst read since January 2015. Subtracting volatile petroleum prices, this number moves to -0.5% — yet another assertion within economic data pointing to deep struggles in the oil & gas space. Year over year Import Prices come in at -6.8%.

On the other side, Export Prices month over month dropped 3.3% — the lowest performance in more than 30 years. Year over year, Exports are down 2.0%. As much as we tend to view the coronavirus pandemic as something affecting the U.S., these numbers bring the global aspect to the crisis into view.

Hopefully we will see some signs of rebound and growth in these, and other, economic figures. Tomorrow’s Retail Sales, Empire State Index and Industrial Production/Capacity Utilization are not expected to solve for our current difficulties, at least not yet. But whether it’s a successful reopening or ahead-of-schedule advancement in treatments for COVID-19, wherever the good news is we will surely take it. That does not appear to be today, however.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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