234,000 job applications reached their highest level in six months – the government can blame Thanksgiving


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The number of Americans who claimed unemployment benefits during Thanksgiving week reached its highest level in six months, but the US job market is still stronger than it has been since decades.

Numbers: The number of Americans who claimed unemployment benefits during Thanksgiving week reached its highest level in six months, but the unexpected spike probably stems from the fact that the holidays took a date earlier than usual.

Initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, increased from 10,000 to 234,000 over the seven days ended November 24, based on seasonally adjusted government figures. (Gross or unadjusted claims have actually fallen.)

It was a third consecutive increase and easily surpassed 220,000 forecasts by economists surveyed by MarketWatch.

The monthly average of new claims also increased – from 4,750 to 223,250.

The number of people already receiving unemployment benefits has increased from 50,000 to 1.7 million. These so-called continuous claims are, however, near the lowest level since the early 1970s.

What happened: The sudden increase in the number of claims seems unusual and should not last.

Despite high-profile announcements of layoffs in historic companies such as General Motors

GM -1.49%

The US unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 48 years. Job opportunities are also close to a record.

The claims probably increased because Thanksgiving had occurred earlier than usual, according to some economists.

Based on recent history, the government adjusts the gross number of Employment Benefits claims to mitigate the ups and downs caused by the change of season. These adjustments usually have only a minor effect, but they tend to be rather nervous during the holidays.

In fact, new jobless claims fell last week if the government's seasonal adjustments were removed. The number of gross claims decreased from 8,651 to 217,834, a very small number reflecting an extremely strong labor market.

Although the number of claims is decreasing soon, these numbers deserve to be monitored.

Lily: A huge US trade deficit with China could prevent Trump and Xi from concluding an end-of-year deal

Big picture: The US economy is not growing as fast as it has been in the spring and summer, but it continues to grow more than nine years after the end of the last recession. Consumers remain optimistic, the holiday season is sounding good and the rebound in the stock markets has eased the nerves.

Lily: Consumer incomes and spending rise in October, but inflation remains under control

What are they saying ?: "The seasonal adjustment is difficult at this time of the year. It's not uncommon to observe quirks, "said Raymond James, chief economist Scott Brown.

"There is nothing to worry about, history clearly shows that the number of claims peaked in the week of Thanksgiving on November 22, the earliest possible date," he said. writes Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Economics. "Claims will decrease next week, probably from 10,000 to 15,000 people.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.35%

and the S & P 500

SPX, -0.49%

fell on Thursday after a big rally the day before. Investors became optimistic after the Fed Chairman seemed to suggest that US interest rates would not rise much further.

Lily: Apparently dovish, Powell says that interest rates are almost where they need to be

The 10-year Treasury yield

TMUBMUSD10Y, -1.40%

slipped a check mark at 3.02%. Yields fell after recently reaching a seven-year high.

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