The 17k initial claims drop to 216k
The 17k initial claims drop to 216k in the first week of January, which included the New Year's holiday, reversed the 12k rise to 233k (was 231k) in the week of Christmas, which also marked the first full week of the government shutdown. Claims are fluctuating above the 206k figure in the second week of December, and the 49-year low of 202k in mid-September. Claims are entering January below recent averages of 219k in December and 227k in November, but above prior averages of 214k in October, 207k in September, and 211k in August. Next week's BLS survey week reading similarly looks poised to lie between higher recent readings of 217k in December and 225k in November, but above previous readings of 210k in October, 202k in September, and 210k in August. Today's reporting period extends through day 15 of the government shutdown, and there is a likely two-week lift from laid off private contractors. Federal employees are captured by a different series released with a one-week lag, and that measure rose just 4K, following a flat figure in the week that captured the first day of the shutdown. If workers get paid later, as expected, they must refund the money, so it appears that most federal workers are assuming a short shutdown that doesn't make filing worthwhile. Analysts still peg the January payroll rise at 200k.