Claims in Puerto Rico are rising but are offset by overall improvement as initial claims fell 5,000 in the October 28 week to a lower-than-expected 229,000. The 4-week average is down for the 5th week in a row, 7,250 lower to a 232,500 level that is 35,000 below a month ago in a comparison that points to strength for tomorrow's October employment report.
The 4-week average also marks a 44-year low as do continuing claims which, in lagging data for the October 21 week, fell 15,000 to 1.884 million. And in a reading that underscores just how strong demand for labor is, the unemployment rate for insured workers is a very low 1.3 percent.
Puerto Rico reported 6,129 initial claims in the October 28 week, up from a revised 3,447 in the prior week and roughly triple what it usually reports. Rising claims from the territory, as it continues to recover from Hurricane Maria in September, are a risk for future reports.
Puerto Rico is appearing as a factor yet hurricane effects have otherwise eased. Initial claims are expected to rise slightly in the October 28 week to a consensus 235,000. Claims in the prior week totaled 233,000 with Puerto Rico rising sharply to more than 3,000.