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U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Climb To 382,000 Due To Hurricane Isaac

U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Climb To 382,000 Due To Hurricane Isaac
9/13/2012 9:17 AM ET

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by more than expected in the week ended September 8th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, although the data was skewed by the impact of Hurricane Isaac.

The report showed that initial jobless claims rose to 382,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge up to 370,000 from the 365,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected increase, jobless claims rose to their highest level since coming in at 388,000 in the week ended July 14th.

However, Labor Department officials noted that the increase in jobless claims was partly due to the impact of Hurricane Isaac, as major storms can often delay unemployment filings.

Jim O'Sullivan, Chief U.S. Economist at High Frequency Economics, said, "According to Labor Department officials, Hurricane Isaac effects boosted not seasonally adjusted claims by an estimated 9,000."

"Allowing for the seasonal factor this week, that would boost the seasonally adjusted number by 11,000-12,000, implying a 370,000 'ex-Isaac' reading," he added.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average climbed to 375,000 from the previous week's revised average of 371,750.

Meanwhile, the report also showed that continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell to 3.283 million in the week ended September 1st from the preceding week's revised level of 3.332 million.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims dipped to 3,316,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,324,000.

HFE's O'Sullivan said, "While today's reading was likely exaggerated, and we do not believe the labor market is weakening, the trend has been and still is weak enough to trigger more Fed easing today."

Last Friday, the Labor Department released its closely watched monthly employment report, showing much weaker than expected job growth in the month of August.

The report showed that employment increased by 96,000 jobs in August following a downwardly revised increase of 141,000 jobs in July. Economists had expected an increase of about 125,000 jobs compared to the addition of 163,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent in August from 8.3 in July. The unemployment rate had been expected to come in unchanged.

However, the unexpected drop by the unemployment rate came amid a notable decrease by the size of the workforce, which shrank by 368,000 people.

by RTT Staff Writer

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