Hurricane effects are not evident in weekly jobless claims which point squarely at solid strength for the October employment report. Initial claims fell 5,000 to a lower-than-expected 210,000 in the October 13 week with the 4-week average edging 2,000 higher to 211,750.
The October 13 week was also the sample week for the monthly employment report and a comparison with the sample week of the September employment shows only a slight increase, up 8,000 at the headline level and up 5,750 for the 4-week average. Though these comparisons do not point to accelerating strength for the October employment report, they nevertheless do point to healthy and steady month-to-month conditions in the labor market.
The first reading on the effects of Hurricane Michael which hit Florida in the latest reporting week shows no impact as initial claims in the state actually fell, down more than 600 to just over 6,400. The effects of Hurricane Florence which hit the Carolinas last month appear to have faded altogether with claims in both states down sharply in the latest week.
Continuing claims in lagging data for the October 6 week continue to make historic lows, down 13,000 overall to 1.640 million with the 4-week average down 1,250 to 1.653 million. Both of these readings are 45-year lows. The unemployment rate for insured workers remains unchanged at only 1.2 percent.
Labor is hard to find and employers are holding on like never before to the employees they have which are central reasons why the Federal Reserve, seeking to avoid overheating in the jobs market, is raising interest rates.
Initial jobless claims are expected to come in at 215,000 in the October 13 week and little changed from 214,000 in the prior week. The effects of Hurricane Michael which struck the Florida panhandle will be the wildcard but are not expected to inflate the week's claims. Hurricane Florence and related flooding in the Carolinas during September turned out to have only a modest impact. Note that the October 13 week was also the sample week for the monthly employment report and the claims results will offer an early indication of what to expect for October's data.