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US Jobs Data Mixed

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US Jobs Data Mixed

The US Department of Labor has released this week’s data on both new and ongoing jobless claims. The Initial Jobless Claims figure for the week ending 11th April has come in at 312K, up on the previous week’s reading of 300K and slightly shy of the expected estimate of 315K. Continuing Jobless Claims for the week ending 4th April are reading at 2.739M, this is a little down on the prior week of 2.776M and less than the consensus estimate of 2.795M.

Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen, touched on the US employment situation last night during her speech to the Economic Club of New York. Yellen stated that it was now ‘quiet plausible’ that the US economy would return to full employment by the end of 2016, however she also suggested that the headline unemployment rate of 6.7% does not give accurate picture of the actual jobs market. Hinting that the actual rate would normally be lower at this stage of the recovery Yellen suggested that it was being kept artificially high due to Americans returning to a more robust jobs market in record numbers.

Although not specifically addressed at last nights speech, the Fed has previously expressed concerns at the structure of the US employment market. Workers returning to the labor market are taking up jobs that on average pay below the rate at which they were before the unemployment spike. Additionally, most Americans currently in part time work have expressed their preference to obtain full time employment. It is not clear yet whether these changes in the structure of the employment market are a feature of the transition back to growth or whether they are more troublingly permanent in nature. Further adding to the Feds challenges is the fact that there are stark regional disparities in the health of the US jobs market, this final point is a more normal feature of recovery in a large economy but this is of little solace to job seekers in those under performing regions.

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