UPDATE: U.S. weekly jobless claims drop ahead of Irma
By Jeffry Bartash, MarketWatch
Surge in Texas jobless claims start to recede; effects of Irma await
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The number of Americans who sought unemployment benefits in early September declined, but the effects of Hurricane Irma could keep new jobless claims at elevated levels over the next few weeks.
Initial jobless claims in the period running from Sept. 3 to Sept. 10 slipped to 284,000 from 298,000, the Labor Department said Thursday (https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf).
Claims had surged at the end of August to a two-and-a-half year high after Hurricane Harvey puts lots of people in the thriving Houston metropolis temporarily out of work.
The effects of Irma, however, are still to be felt. The storm didn't make landfall until the weekend, leaving weekly claims in Florida little changed, according to a Labor Department estimate.
Still, claims in Florida could surge in the next week or two once the state government gets back on its feet, and people displaced by the storm are able to apply for benefits. Millions of people evacuated, and power throughout most of the state was lost.
"Our take is that the flow of Harvey-related claims is now slowing, but the surge in Irma-related claims will come in next week's report," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
New claims count people who apply for unemployment benefits after losing their jobs. Workers are also allowed to receive benefits if they are unable to work temporarily for no fault of their own. Many businesses were forced to close in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Although business are beginning to reopen and Americans in the affected regions are slowly returning to work, jobless claims could be elevated for a while until the damage is largely under control.
Before the hurricanes landed, initial weekly jobless claims had hovered around 235,000 and were near the lowest level since the early 1970s.
A monthly average of jobless claims seen as a more stable barometer of labor-market trends rose by 13,000 to 263,250. That's the highest level in a year, though it's expected to turn lower again by the end of the month.
The number of people already collecting unemployment checks, known as continuing claims, fell by 7,000 to 1.94 million in the first week of September.
U.S. futures pointed to a lower opening from the Dow Jones Industrial Average .
-Jeffry Bartash; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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09-14-17 0944ETCopyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.