For the week ended October 3, Weekly Jobless Claims measured 521,000, comparing favorably against the previous week's revised figure of 554,000. The periodic tally of new unemployment benefits filers reached its lowest flow rate since January. The count also proved better than the economists' consensus forecast of 540,000, based on Bloomberg's survey. As a result of the favorable figure, the four-week moving average also improved by 9,000, to 539,750.
Last week, we saw the federal government's monthly count of unemployment climb a tenth of a percentage point higher to 9.8% for September. This week's Department of Labor data showed the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate improved a tenth of a percent to 4.5% for the period ended September 26.
Be careful though, this by no means suggests unemployment has peaked. Unemployment benefits last through a specified period before expiring, leaving the folks who lost their jobs at the start of the recession high and dry... and not accounted for in this report. Still, the data certainly offers reason for hope, especially when considering that the "high and dry" numbers are being controlled via legislated extensions of unemployment benefits.
The government reports that extended benefits were available in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin during the week ending Sept. 19.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Sept. 19 were in Puerto Rico (6.1%), Oregon (5.3%), Nevada (5.2%), Pennsylvania (5.0%), California (4.9%), Michigan (4.8%), Wisconsin (4.7%), Arkansas (4.6%), North Carolina (4.6%) and South Carolina (4.5%).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Sept. 26 were in California (+4,467), Ohio (+3,421), Illinois (+1,815), Missouri (+1,049) and Tennessee (+1,048), while the largest decreases were in New York (-2,253), North Carolina (-1,609), South Carolina (-1,159), Arkansas (-818), and Florida
Robert Half International Survey
Employment services firm, Robert Half International (RHI), recently surveyed employers and found that hiring new employees is their top priority once the economy bounces back. Of course, RHI has good reason to hope for such a turn about, since its own financial health depends on it. Still, 31% of those asked where they would invest new capital once the economic recovery took hold, responded they would look to hiring new staff.
Layoffs typically are late in coming, as employers bear costs related training, but also because managers are often in denial about economic decline until higher level budget pressures push them to act. Considering the depth of this latest and greatest recession, we think there's good chance employers overshot in their job cutting, and will look to hire swiftly and en masse when recovery takes hold. Robert Half, Korn/Ferry (KFY), Manpower Inc. (MAN) and Monster Worldwide (MWW) sure hope so. The shares of the above mentioned firms are up between 1% and 7% today on the good news.
Disclosure: No Positions
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