Hurricane effects are apparent in weekly jobless claims data but are far from overwhelming. Initial claims rose 12,000 in the September 23 week to a 272,000 level that is slightly below Econoday's consensus. Claims in Texas continue to come down, at an unadjusted 20,169 in the week which is roughly double the average but a 1/3 of their peak following Hurricane Harvey's landfall in late August. Claims in both Florida and Georgia, both hit by Hurricane Irma early on in this month, are now on the rise but less than catastrophic, with Florida at 18,212 this week vs 10,052 in the prior week, and at 7,917 for Georgia which is up from 4,760. Claims in Puerto Rico, which has since been devastated by Hurricane Maria and where claims are being estimated by the Labor Department, fell to an estimated 2,248 from 2,416. Filings in Virgin Islands also rose but are marginal at 210.
Continuing claims remain very steady and have yet to show any hurricane impacts, at 1.934 million in lagging data for the September 16 week for a 45,000 decline with the 4-week average at 1.950 million. This average has been roughly unchanged since mid-August. The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at 1.4 percent.
Though Puerto Rico is still a concern, the impact so far of this year's very heavy hurricane season has been relatively limited on the labor market, pointing to resilience for payroll data in next week's September employment report.
Hurricane volatility makes initial jobless claims difficult to call but the consensus for the September 23 week is 275,000 vs an average of 280,000 in the prior three weeks which all had hurricane impacts. Claims in Texas rose sharply at first but have since eased while the initial impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida was heavy.