Weekly jobless claims rose unexpectedly by 12,000 to 290,000 for the week ended Nov. 8, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday. Though the number remained near a 14-year low, the number of eligible citizens is so low the fact it rose at all is concerning to many economists.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims increasing to 280,000 last week, but claims have now been below the 300,000 threshold for nine straight weeks. In the month of October, claims hit their lowest level since 2000 at 266,000.
Still, even as claims have fallen, the pace of hiring has been consistent in recent years and has averaged about 200,000 a month, although job creation is dominated by part-time and low-wage positions.
Further, despite workers hearing mildly positive economic new in media reports, they clearly still lack confidence in the labor market, creating a desire to stay in low-paying jobs rather than look for more gainful employment opportunity. The share of workers with jobs who quit has held steady most of this year, and remains well below where it was at the start of the recession.
Some analysts have suggested this may be at least one reason the U.S. has seen stagnant, zero, or reducing wage growth, which is by far the most important measurement of economic health to Americans. The Labor Department is due to release September data on the rate of job turnovers – which will include the quits rate – on Thursday.
In the claims data, the four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 6,000 to 285,000. It was the first time the rolling average increased this year, suggesting a slowdown in job creation.
The Labor Department said there were no special factors influencing last week’s claims data.
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid also increased by 36,000 to 2.39 million in the week ended Nov. 1. The unemployment rate for people receiving jobless benefits was at 1.8 percent for a ninth straight week.