The only important economic data released this morning is a report from the Department of Labor which showed that the number of Americans making first-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 259K in the week ending September 3rd. That is a decrease of 4K from the prior week’s figure, better than economists had expected, and the lowest headline reading since mid-July. Initial jobless claims have been surprisingly stable this year, confirming that any recent slowdown in the pace of nonfarm payrolls growth has been due more to a decline in hiring than an uptick in firing. Moreover, this was 79th weekly print below 300K in a row, the longest such streak since 1973 and a pattern believed to be consistent with an overall healthy labor market. With claims near multi-decade lows, though, there is probably not much room left for further declines, and a slight rise could even be expected as the economy inches closer to full-employment. Combine this with the number of job openings in America climbing to a new all-time high this summer and it seems clear that the labor market is one area of the economy that will not help officials at the Federal Reserve justify keeping interest rates at historically low levels.
Sources: Econoday, Twitter, Bloomberg, ZH, U.S. DoL, Reuters, FRBSLPost author: Charles Couch