U.S. jobless claims little modified in potential signal that layoffs have hit a plateau

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Initial unemployment insurance claims have changed little over the past week, suggesting that the increased pace of layoffs during the pandemic may have plateaued, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Initial filings for the week ending November 13th came in at 268,000, down 1,000 from the previous week and slightly more than the Dow Jones estimate of 260,000.

The total was the lowest since the pandemic began, but was exactly the same as last month’s claims.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out weekly volatility, fell to 272,750, slightly above the total for the last weekly count.

Persistent claims, a week behind the headline, fell 129,000 to 2.08 million, also a low in the pandemic era that dates back to March 14, 2020.

Although the totals for regular and ongoing entitlements declined, the lagging numbers for those receiving benefits under all programs rose sharply by October 30. That total increased by 618,804 to 3.185 million.

Special Pandemic Emergency Relief Programs ended in September in most locations, but in particular the total number for the Pandemic Unemployment Relief Program skyrocketed from October 23 to October 30, increasing by 537,467.

The Ministry of Labor did not provide an explanation for the large increase in pandemic-related notifications.

A separate report on Thursday brought some strong manufacturing news and more signs of inflation.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s monthly activity indicator in this sector rose 15 points to 39, the percentage difference between companies reporting expansion and contraction. That was well above the Dow Jones estimate for 23, driven by increases in employment and prices paid and received.