Weekly claims for unemployment last week jumped far above expectations. This is one of those times when seasonal adjustment factors are the cause, not any fundamental deterioration in the health of the labor market.
The first chart above shows weekly claims on a seasonally adjusted basis. Note the significant rise in claims in the past week. The second chart shows the non-seasonally adjusted (i.e., actual) level of claims. Note that there was no increase at all in the actual number of claims in the past two weeks and very little change during the month of March. Note also how claims this past month have behaved very similarly to claims in March of last year. The problem apparently lies with the timing of the Easter holiday and Good Friday. I expect claims next week will fall back to former levels.
The Challenger tally of announced corporate layoffs revealed nothing unusual in March.
The number of people receiving unemployment compensation insurance continues to decline, down 1.3 million in the past year. The important and healthy trends in the labor market remain in place.