The Labor Department said Thursday (Dec. 8) that filings for unemployment in the United States slipped from a five-month high, a showing that hints of continued strength within the labor market and in the U.S. economy overall.
The data showed that initial filings for unemployment benefits dropped by 10,000 claims to a seasonally adjusted 258,000, as measured through the week that ended Dec. 3.
The most recent announcement marks the ninety-second consecutive week that the claims stood below a 300,000 threshold, which is generally accepted by many observers as a signal that the labor market is showing strength. Reuters noted that this has been the longest consecutive period of filings below that level since 1970.
The four-week moving average has given a similar picture, with less volatility, of a 252,000-per-week tally of claims. Across another measure, also smoothing volatility, a four-week average of continuing claims slipped by 9,500 individuals to 2 million.
As has been widely expected, the continued momentum in the U.S. employment picture has been one that will likely give ammo for the Fed to raise rates, beginning with its meeting next week, and with the implication that rising inflation will set the stage for those hikes. With the latest reading of unemployment at 4.6 percent and close to “full employment,” non-farm payrolls are seeing rosters well-filled.
In the wake of that report and into a new trading day on Friday (Dec. 9), stocks were up roughly 30 basis points (as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index).