Worrisome — but possibly noisy — jobless claims data

Dec 19, 2013 14:29 UTC

The Department of Labor reported a surprise increase in initial claims for unemployment benefits today. Jobless claims hit a nine-month high, but a DOL analyst told Reuters that unemployment data can be noisy at this time of year. Here’s Reuters’s graphic with all the pertinent details:

Here’s more:

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 334,000 last week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 13,250 to 343,500.

“This is not really good. Some of us had thought last week’s jump was an aberration. We have to see what’s going on here. Obviously the Fed won’t be looking at these numbers kindly after what happened yesterday,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.


Planned layoffs jump in October

Nov 6, 2013 16:01 UTC

The number of planned layoffs in the US was up 13.5% in October from the previous month, Reuters writes. However, there is some good news:

For the first time in five months, the October figure was lower than the year-ago tally, which came in at 47,724. For 2013 so far, employers have announced 433,114 cuts, close to the 433,725 seen in the first ten months of last year.

The pharmaceutical sector saw the most layoffs, with plans to cut 10,585 employees. Those cuts came mostly from pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Inc. Last quarter the company reported lower sales of its Januvia diabetes treatment – its biggest product.

The financial sector saw the second-biggest cuts, with 8,717 layoffs announced. The sector has seen the deepest downsizing so far this year, with 57,591 cuts announced since January.

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