By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — The hoped-for improvement in the U.S. labor market failed to materialize, last week, as another wave of layoffs put the country on course for another disappointing payrolls report in two weeks’ time.
Initial jobless claims rose to 861,000 last week, the Labor Department said, rather than falling to 765,000 as expected. To make it worse, the previous week’s figures were revised upwards by over 50,000 to 848,000. As such, initial claims are still running fairly close to the recent peak of just over 900,000.
The number of continuing claims, which are calculated with a one-week lag to initial claims, also disappointed. They only inched down to 4.494 million from an upwardly revised 4.558 million. Analysts had expected a figure of 4.413 million.
However, including those enrolled on pandemic-specific programs, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits fell in the week through January 30 fell by some 1.3 million to 18.34 million.
Data from the housing market released at the same time showed that activity stayed at historically high rates in January, albeit coming slightly off December’s 14-year high. Housing starts fell to 1.58 million from 1.68 million in December, a development that masked divergent trends for single- and multi-family build. Single-family starts fell 6% from the previous month, while multi-family starts – typically associated with rental property – rose 16.2%.
The more forward-looking building permits data presented a stronger picture. They rose to an all-time high of 1.88 million, from 1.68 million a month earlier. They had been expected to fall slightly in monthly terms.
U.S. Jobless Claims Rose Surprisingly Last Week to 861,000
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