A New York Department of City Administrative Services representative, left, speaks with job seekers during a Catalyst Career Group job fair in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Caitlin Ochs/Bloomberg)

Jobless Claims Surge in Storm-Hit Carolinas, Boosting U.S. Total

(Bloomberg) -- Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose last week, reflecting jumps in states hit by Hurricane Florence, though the national figure remains near the lowest in almost five decades, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week Ended Sept. 22)

  • Jobless claims increased by 12k to 214k (est. 210k)
  • Continuing claims rose by 16k to 1.661m in week ended Sept. 15 (data reported with one-week lag)
  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, little changed at 206,250 

Key Takeaways

The increase in weekly claims reflects an almost fivefold jump to about 10,000 in North Carolina and a more than doubling to nearly 3,400 in South Carolina, two states grappling with flooding and damage from Florence. The jump is expected to prove temporary, similar to the pattern from previous major storms, such as Harvey and Irma in 2017.

The trend in unemployment-benefits applications continues to indicate steady business demand for workers, which is projected to be reinforced by the September payrolls report due next week.
The unemployment rate is close to the lowest since 1969 and employers are citing a shortage of skilled workers.