The first indication on the December labor market is very favorable. Initial claims fell 11,000 in the December 9 week to 225,000 which easily beats Econoday's consensus for 239,000. The drop comes despite still high totals from hurricane-hit Puerto Rico where claims, at 5,740 in the latest week, remain about 4,000 higher than normal though down from earlier weeks including the December 2 week when claims from the territory totaled 7,281.
Continuing claims in lagging data for the December 2 week are likewise favorable, down 27,000 to 1.886 million which takes the unemployment rate for insured workers down 1 tenth to a very low 1.3 percent.
All the readings in this report outside of Puerto Rico are very low and point to a labor market that is at, or is very near, full employment.
Initial claims are expected to come in at 239,000 in the December 9 week vs 236,000 in the December 2 week. After coming down sharply in the prior week, claims from Puerto Rico rose sharply to over 7,000 with the Labor Department warning of remaining backlog from Hurricane Maria.