Initial jobless claims fell sharply and unexpectedly in the September 16 week but may reflect the inability of displaced workers in hurricane hit states to file claims. Claims fell 23,000 to 259,000 though the 4-week average did rise 6,000 to 268,750.
Claims from Florida, which had to be estimated in the prior week, doubled to nearly 10,000 though claims from Texas, which jumped more than 50,000 to over 60,0000 immediately following Harvey's landfall, fell back for a second week, to roughly 28,500 which is still double than normal. Other states hit by hurricanes include Puerto Rico where claims only edged higher in the latest week but appear certain, especially after yesterday's landfall by Hurricane Maria, to spike sharply in the weeks ahead. The latest data from South Carolina and the Virgin Islands had to be estimated.
Continuing claims, in lagging data for the September 9 week, may be showing some hurricane effects, rising a sharp 44,000 to 1.980 million though the 4-week average is only marginally higher at 1.953 million and the unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at 1.4 percent.
Though hinting at greater joblessness, this report is still too clouded to get much of handle on the employment effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and offers few clues on how payrolls will be affected in the September employment report.
Hurricane volatility makes the initial jobless claims call difficult but the consensus for the September 16 is 303,000 vs 284,000 and 298,000 in the prior two weeks. Claims in Texas edged back in the September 9 week but still remained elevated while those in Florida had to be estimated. Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma will be skewing claims data for at least the next several weeks.