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Bearish Threat Still Present

Bearish Threat Still Present

--Initial Claims Four-Week Average Rises By 2,000 To 211,750
--Initial Claims Fall, But Hurricane Impacts Coming
By Shikha Dave and Harrison Clarke
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - Initial claims U.S. state unemployment benefits 
fell by 5,000 to 210,000 in the October 13 employment survey week, as 
expected by analysts in an MNI survey, data released by the Labor 
Department Thursday showed. 
     The level of claims was up 8,000 from the 202,000 level in the 
September 15 employment survey week, a negative for the employment data. 
     The level of initial claims is likely to rise sharply in the coming 
weeks as the impact of Hurricane Michael is felt by displaced workers. 
The timing of their filings may be spread out throughout the weeks, 
rather than all concentrated in one week, as workers return to the 
affected areas. 
     A better measure for the underlying trend of the data is the 
four-week moving average for initial claims. The average rose by 2,000 
to 211,750 in the October 13 week, up from the 206,000 level in the 
September 15 employment survey week.  
     If the number of headline claims does not change next week and 
there are no revisions to data from the past four weeks, the four-week 
average would fall by 1,250 as the 215,000 level in the September 22 
week rolls out of the calculation, keeping the average below its year 
ago level. However, like initial claims, the average will also be 
impacted by the effects of Hurricane Michael in the coming weeks. 
     Seasonal adjustment factors had expected an decrease of 2.5%, or 
4,943 in unadjusted claims. However, claims actually saw an decrease of 
4.9%, or 9,847 to 190,017. The current week's level was well below the 
205,592 level in the comparable week a year ago. 
     The level of continuing claims fell by 13,000 to 1.640 million in 
the October 6 week. Before seasonal adjustment, continuing claims fell 
by 20,825 to 1.350 million, remaining below the 1.566 million level seen 
in the comparable week last year. 
     The four-week average for continuing claims, which tends to be a  
more reliable measure as continuing claims consistently fluctuate 
week-to-week, fell by 1,250 to 1.653 million. 
     The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate stayed at 1.2% in 
the October 6 week, down from 1.4% in the same week a year earlier, 
reinforcing that the level of insured unemployment is particularly low. 
     The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below 
that reported monthly by the Labor Department because claims are 
approved for the most part only for job losers, not the job leavers and 
labor force reentrants included in the monthly report. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **