The Dow Jones Industrials Index slipped fractionally ahead of the Department of Labor report. The reason was due to a Weekly Jobless Claims Report that served as a stark reminder of a nagging problem, a still bleeding job market.
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Friday's Employment Report is expected to show an increase in jobs when excluding the public sector and temporary census job shedding, but the unemployment rate is supposed to tell another story Friday. Challenger's Job-Cut Report and ADP's Private Employment Report offered little reason to look for anything different. While Thursday's Monster Employment Index noted a similar lack of change, being stuck at anchored unemployment is still simply chilling.
Weekly Jobless Claims
Weekly Initial Jobless Claims jumped 19,000 in the week ended July 30, reaching 479K. The result was certainly surprising to the street, where investment house economists were looking for a measure of 455K. The four-week moving average of claims filers increased 5,250, to number 458,500. This high level of newly jobless has been a persistent problem, and the rise was not a good sign just one day ahead of the Department of Labor's Employment Situation Report.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate stayed put at 3.6% for the reported July 24 period. Friday morning though, economists are looking for the national unemployment rate to rise a tenth of a point to 9.6%; we think we could see the rate jump as high as 9.7%. This warning has traders confused heading into the release.
Extended benefits were available in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin during the week ending July 17.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending July 17 were in Puerto Rico (7.2 percent), Pennsylvania (5.3), Oregon (4.8), Massachusetts (4.7), New Jersey (4.7), California (4.6), Connecticut (4.5), Nevada (4.5), Alaska (4.4), Rhode Island (4.3), and Wisconsin (4.3).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending July 24 were in Minnesota (+288), Vermont (+39), North Dakota (+38), Wyoming (+32), and Colorado (+19), while the largest decreases were in California (-19,107), New York (-7,801), North Carolina (-6,399), Michigan (-5,984), and Georgia (-5,863).
Monster Employment Index
Monster World Wide (NYSE: MWW) focused on the positive Thursday, noting in the headline of their press release that the MEI had improved 21% year-to-year in July. Monster went on cheering that the index's gain was the sixth consecutive. What the headline left out was that July's reading marked a drop of three points from June, to a level of 138. However, Monster notes, this decline is in line with seasonal job hiring patterns and a normal lull in the mid-summer month. For this reason, Monster compares the annual rate of growth in July to that of June, which placed the month on equal footing. The other labor market report noted in this post tracks the negative, while this one surveys the positive. Perhaps we have a bit of a tug-of-war beginning, but it means stagnation at a time when underemployment sits in the mid-teens and consumer spending is backing off. If you are not following, that offers a vulnerable economy with a federal government about out of bullets.
For those of you out of work and willing to relocate, though, we thought you might be interested in knowing the states with the best opportunities per capita. The top ten states for jobs per capita are Delaware, Connecticut, Alaska, Rhode Island, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, Montana, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Look for our coverage of the Employment Situation Report Friday morning.
Corporate News Drivers
Corporate news keys on Merck (NYSE: MRK), which presents at the BMO Capital Markets Focus on Healthcare Conference. The earnings schedule highlights data from Viacom (NYSE: VIA), Cardinal Health (NYSE: CAH), Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT), CIGNA (NYSE: CI), Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WPI) and The Progressive (NYSE: PGR).
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