Jobless Claims Give Labor Market No Worries

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Unemployment

Now, the narrative of the labor market recovery appears to be one of recovery. As payroll processor ADP’s monthly National Employment Report showed, employers added 215,000 workers to their payrolls in November — the strongest month for job growth in 2013. That job growth prompted Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, whose firm helps compile the data, to comment that, “The labor market remained surprisingly resilient to the government shutdown and brinkmanship over the treasury debt limit. Employers across all industries and company sizes looked through the political battle in Washington. If anything, job growth appears to be picking up.”

For months, the falling number of initial applications for unemployment benefits has confirmed that the employment situation was improving. Despite the spike in first-time jobless claims during the 16-day government shutdown in October, claims for unemployment benefits have trended down in 2013. In the week ended November 30, jobless claims decreased by a better-than-expected 23,000, falling to 298,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 321,000, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. That figure not only surpassed expectations for 321,000 new claims, but was a two-month low.

“The labor market continues to improve,” Societe Generale economist Brian Jones told Bloomberg before the report was released. “Not only is the rate of layoffs slowing precipitously, more people are finding work.” He made similar comments after ADP’s report, noting that his firm was “optimistic on growth next year, continued improvement, further reductions in the jobless rate.”

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