Jobless claims: Another 362,000 individuals filed new claims last week

·Reporter
·3 min read

U.S. states saw an unexpected increase in initial jobless filings last week, even as companies across industries looked to bring on workers to fill widespread vacancies. 

The Labor Department released its weekly jobless claims report Thursday morning. Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended September 25: 362,000 vs. 330,000 expected, and an unrevised 351,000 during prior week

  • Continuing claims, week ended September 18: 2.802 million vs. 2.790 million expected, and a revised 2.820 million during prior week

New weekly jobless claims have risen for three consecutive weeks, increasing off a pandemic-era low from earlier this month but still remaining well below heightened prints from earlier this year. And initial unemployment claims have in recent months drawn closer to their pre-pandemic levels, with new weekly filings having come in at an average weekly pace of just over 200,000 in 2019. 

Economists chalked up the mid-month increase in new jobless claims in part to a delayed impact from Hurricane Ida, which may have caused people to postpone unemployment filings at the beginning of the month. New jobless claims had reached a pandemic-era low of 312,000 at the start of September.

Fully returning the labor market to pre-pandemic levels, however, has become a matter of bringing more workers back into the labor force, rather than curbing layoffs and separations. Job openings were at a record high of 10.9 million on the last business day in July, according to the Labor Department's latest monthly report, with some of the greatest demand for workers coming from the services sector.

"It is a challenge that we're all dealing with," Papa John's CEO John Lynch told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday of the labor scarcities. "It is exacerbated in the restaurant industry, but I would tell you that it's not just the restaurant industry — it's really across every sector of our economy. A lot of our suppliers who supply us with ingredients are also having to pay more and having to really work to find people to come in and work." 

Economists and policymakers have highlighted a number of concerns still keeping individuals on the sidelines. 

"Demand for labor is very strong, and job gains averaged 750,000 per month over the past three months. In August, however, gains slowed markedly, with the slowdown concentrated in sectors most sensitive to the pandemic," Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. "Factors related to the pandemic, such as caregiving needs and ongoing fears of the virus, appear to be weighing on employment growth. These factors should diminish with progress on containing the virus." 

This week's jobless claims report was also the first to account for the national expiration of federal enhanced unemployment benefits, which took place on Sept. 6. Some pundits suggested the end of these benefits might incentivize more individuals to return to work.

As of the latest data, just over 5 million individuals were claiming benefits across all programs for the week ended Sept. 11. That compared to 11.3 million individuals on state and federal unemployment programs as of the week ended Sept. 4.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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