The 1,000 initial claims down-tick to 216,000 (consensus: 217,000) in the fourth week of December followed a prior boost that left an 11,000 bounce to 217,000 (was 214,000) in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey week, as claims fluctuate above the 206,000 figure in the second week of December and the 49-year low of 202,000 in mid-September.
Data continues to reverse hurricane and fire distortions amid the period of holiday volatility between Veteran's Day and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.
The current report captured only the first day of the government shutdown, and analysts with Action Economics ( AE ) expect a lift over the coming weeks from laid off private contractors. Federal employees are captured by a different series that is released with an extra one-week lag, so AE expects an uptick in that measure next week with the first day of the shutdown, but a bigger pop in the following week if the shutdown continues.
Claims are averaging 214,000 thus far in December, versus a lofty 227,000 November average, but similar to prior averages of 214,000 in October, 207,000 in September, and 211,000 in August.
The 217,000 December BLS survey week reading undershot the 225,000 November figure, and lies above prior readings of 210,000 in October, 202,000 in September, and 210,000 in August.
AE has left their December nonfarm payroll estimate at 205,000 (consensus: 178,000), which lies between recent gains of 155,000 in November and 237,000 in October.
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