From what was expected last week, the number of American citizens who filed new claims to receive benefits for unemployment was up. However, the increase in claims was still not enough to change what experts consider an ongoing strong labor market.
Initially, claims for state benefits had jumped by 17,000 to an adjusted 298,000 seasonally for week-ending December 27, this according to the US Labor Department, which was followed by four consecutive weeks of numbers dropping.
The number of claims forecasted last week by polled economists last week was 290,000. Data was revised from the week prior to show that an additional 1,000 applications had been received and around the Christmas holiday timeframe were volatile.
As economists explain, the change in the number of unemployment claims was typically for swings experienced around the holidays. While figures were unveiled, experts stated that there was nothing unique about the change. After all, during this particular time of year, it is common to see a fluctuation in the number of applications, making it difficult to make data adjustments for variations.
Also reported was that fewer workers were being let go from jobs and in fact, with an upswing in household purchases, more staff is being added, something driven by the decline in the cost of gasoline that experts believe will continue to give the economy a boost in expansion.
According to Thomas Simons, economist with New York-based Jefferies LLC, distortions are commonly seen in conjunction with the holiday season. Among all the economists polled, Simons’ last week estimation was the most accurate. He added that conditions in the labor market are still grinding somewhat lighter, moving closer to wage growth being bolstered.
After the report on US jobless claims was released, stock index futures saw earlier gains. For instance, on the S&P 500 Index that will mature in March, there was an increase of 0.1% to 2,079.6.
The report showed that the number of people who still get benefits was down to 2.35 million for the week-ended December 20, a drop of 53,000. In addition, the rate for people who were eligible to receive unemployment benefits remained at 1.8%.
Up to this point in 2014, increases for monthly payroll climbed on average close to 241,000, compared to 194,000 in 2013. With an additional 2.7 million people on the payroll, the economy is holding steady for the largest annual hiring gain in 15 years.
Better prospects for employment are helping boost American’s confidence, indicated by a rise to 92.6 for the Conference Board’s index. In measuring current conditions, there was the highest advance in nearly seven years.