U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Below 300,000 for 13th Straight Week

Jobless ClaimsThe U.S. weekly jobless claims, for the week ending May 30, totaled 276,000 vs. the estimated 280,000. The most recent figures marked the 13th straight week of the claims being below 300,000.

Weekly initial jobless claims came in at 276,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s numbers were revised up 2,000 from 282,000 to 284,000. Weekly jobless claims are the number of people who are filing or have filed to receive unemployment insurance benefits as reported weekly by the U.S. Department of Labor. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor, June 4, 2015.)

Because of the short sample period, week-to-week results may be volatile. Therefore, reported results are most often headlined as a four-week moving average so that each week’s release is the average of the four prior jobless claims reports.

The four-week moving average of weekly jobless claims was 274,750, an increase of 2,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 271,500 to 272,000. The four-week moving average was at its lowest level since November 25, 2000.

According to the Department of Labor, there were no special factors impacting last week’s initial claims.

Employment in Manufacturing Rose in May

On Monday, June 1, 2015, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported on economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector. It said the Employment Index rose to 51.7% in May, which is an increase of 3.4% when compared to the 48.3% reported in April. This indicates a return to growth in employment, following only one month of contraction in the past 24 months. The computer and electronic industry was the only industry to report a decline in employment. Over time, an employment index above 50.6% is generally consistent with an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on manufacturing employment. (Source: Institute for Supply Management, last accessed June 4, 2015.)

Fed Outlook

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise the federal funds rate this year. Hence, policy makers in the Federal Reserve are closely monitoring employment.

“This improvement in the labor market has brought the economy closer to one of the two goals of monetary policy assigned to the Fed by Congress—maximum employment. Less progress has been made toward the other goal, price stability,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in Rhode Island on May 22, 2015. She added, “It is only now, six years after the recession ended, that the labor market is approaching its full strength.” (Source: The Federal Reserve, last accessed June 4, 2015.)