Economic Report: First-time U.S. jobless claims unchanged at 205,000 in week ended Dec. 18
The numbers: Initial jobless benefit claims were unchanged at 205,000 in the week ended Dec. 18, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. The previous week’s figure was revised down by 1,000.
Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated new claims would total 206,000.
Before the pandemic, initial jobless claims averaged about 220,000 a week.
Key details: The number of people already collecting jobless benefits declined by a slight 8,000 to 1.86 million.
Big picture: Earlier this month, jobless claims hit lows last seen in the late 1960s, reflecting the tight labor market and robust demand for workers as the economy recovers.
Economists expect continued claims should gradually migrate toward their pre-pandemic level of 1.7 million as more individuals return to the labor market and as their benefits expire.
What are they saying: “The data can be noisy during the holidays, but filings continue to trend down on strong demand for workers amid a labor shortage. The risk now is from new virus variants which are forcing businesses to voluntarily close in response to rising infections,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
Market reaction: Stocks DJIA, +0.75% SPX, +0.81% were set to open slightly higher Thursday.