Is our economy improving? According to the most recent job claims report, which measures and keeps track of layoffs and unemployment applications, we are at the lowest number of claimants since 1973.
The week ending October 14 showed a 22,000 decrease in the number of claims made, dropping the total number to 222,000. This is the lowest it’s been since March 1973, and even below the 244,000 predicted by the MarketWatch Forecast.
Continuing claims – those already receiving unemployment benefits – saw a significant drop as well. These dropped by 16,000, bringing the total number of reported continuing claims to 1.89 million; the lowest it’s been in 44 years.
What the Experts Say
MSN Money said the labor market is drastically improving:
“The U.S. labor market is the strongest in at least a decade and a half, reflecting a sturdy economic expansion now in its ninth year.The 4.2% unemployment rate is the lowest since 2000, and the biggest complaint among business leaders is a shortage of skilled workers to fill a record number of job openings.”
Because the labor market is improving, the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates in December, which would be the third time this year. Reuters said the “labor market is near full employment, with a jobless rate at a more than 16-1/2-year low of 4.2 percent.”
Last week saw the 137th consecutive week that new unemployment claims stayed below 300,00, which Reuters said is associated with a robust labor market.
“The data suggest that the underlying trend in employment growth remains more than strong enough to keep the unemployment rate declining,” said Jim O‘Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.
Improvement and Growth
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left a lot of people out of work and created a sharp spike in claims during September, reaching 298,000, nearly a three-year high. Many of these claims were temporary, meaning October’s numbers are mostly back to normal for the areas of Florida and Texas.
Other areas of the report show improvement and growth as well. Factory employment in the mid-Atlantic region, for example, rose 24 points to 30.6, a record high.
The average workweek index said there had not been any firms reporting a decrease of employment. The index also increased by 8 points to reach 19.4 points.
“It doesn’t take one hundred Ph.D. economists at the Fed to figure out that the labor market is on the tight side of normal,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York. “At this point, we would expect a sharp bounce-back in employment growth in October.”
The numbers seem to show it, but does it reflect reality in your hometown? Let us know in the comments section below.