Initial jobless claims, elevated slightly by Hurricane Florence, rose but only modestly in the October 6 week, up 7,000 to 214,000. The 4-week average is up 2,500 to a 209,500 level that is only marginally higher than the month-ago comparison.
Claims for North Carolina, which was hit by Florence last month, rose more than 4,000 in the week to nearly 9,500. An offset is a nearly 2,000 decrease for South Carolina to just over 3,000. Hurricane Michael, which hit Florida yesterday and is now moving toward the Carolinas, is certain to affect next week's report.
Continuing claims in lagging data for the September 29 week edged 4,000 higher to 1.660 million. The 4-week average for continuing claims, down 10,000 to 1.656 million, is the lowest since 1973. The unemployment rate for insured workers is only 1.2 percent.
Hurricane Florence had no visible impact on the September employment report and whether Michael will affect October's report is uncertain. What is certain is that claims overall are very low and very favorable and point to strong demand for labor.
Initial jobless claims are expected to come in at 207,000 in the October 6 week, unchanged from what was a lower-than-expected 207,000 in the prior week. Hurricane Florence and related flooding turned out to have no significant effect with increases in North and South Carolina proving limited.