Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=216437
Story Retrieval Date: 12/19/2014 5:29:29 PM CST
The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment rose by 20,000 in the week ending Feb. 16, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Although the figure was higher than analysts had expected, the slight increase generally suggests the economy is holding steady.
The advance seasonally adjusted number of initial claims climbed to 362,000 from a revised 342,000 in the prior week, the report said. That topped the 355,000 claims that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted would be filed.
The rise in claims follows two weeks of modest declines. But J.P. Morgan economist Daniel Silver suggested the higher figure gives a more accurate picture of overall economic trends; the historic snowstorm that hit the Northeast around Feb. 8 could have been a distorting factor in the data from the past couple of weeks.
“The storm could have both prevented people from working, which would generate more claims, and prevented people from filing claims, causing a reduction in claims,” he wrote in an online report.
Silver also suggested that instability in the past few months’ weekly figures might be attributed to complications in the seasonal adjustment process meant to account for various holidays.
This week’s number seems “consistent with a steady trend in the labor market,” he said.
The four-week moving average of initial claims--which irons out weekly volatility--increased by 8,000 to 360,750.
Kansas, Virginia and Indiana were among the states with the largest increases in new claims. California, Wisconsin and New York were among those with the largest decreases.