After a period of volatility, jobless claims may be settling down. Initial claims totaled a modest 230,000 in the January 27 week following a revised 231,000 in the prior week. Claims had been stable through most of last year at about the 240,000 level before the hurricane season upended the data beginning in late August. The 4-week average is down for a third week in a row, at 234,5000 which is more than 5,000 below where it was a month ago.
Continuing claims in lagging data for the January 20 week rose 13,000 to 1.953 with this 4-week average up 12,000 to a 1.933 million level that is marginally higher than the month-ago comparison. The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at a very low 1.4 percent.
Maine was the only state estimated in the week which perhaps underscores that a period of stability may be ahead for claims data. Today's results help confirm the health of the labor market, specifically the low level of layoffs, going into tomorrow's employment report for January.
Initial claims are expected to come in at 235,000 in the January 27 week compared to 233,000 in the January 20 week. Jobless claims have been showing recent volatility yet have been firmly consistent with a low level of layoffs and unusually strong demand for labor.