U.S. jobless claims increase slightly to 207,000 for the week


A recruiter speaks with an attendee the Cape Fear Community College’s Business and IT Career Fair at Cape Fear Community College North Building in Castle Hayne, North Carolina, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.

Allison Joyce | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. labor market held strong as September came to a close, with weekly jobless claims holding around recent lows, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Initial filings for unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 207,000 for the week ended Sept. 30, up just 2,000 from the previous period and below the Dow Jones consensus estimate for 210,000.

Continuing claims, which run a week behind, were little changed at 1.664 million, below the 1.68 million estimate from FactSet. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out volatility, fell to 208,750, a decline of 2,500.

Following the report, stock market futures added to losses while Treasury yields moved higher. Dow futures fell about 100 points while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by nearly 3 basis point or 0.03 percentage points on the day. Central bank officials worry that continued tightness in the labor market could exert upward pressure on inflation and necessitate additional interest rate hikes.

Markets have been especially sensitive to moves higher in Treasury yields that could indicate the Fed will keep rates higher. Traders are pricing in less than a 40% chance of a rate hike before the end of the year, but Fed officials lately have been warning that while the outlook for increases is uncertainty, rates are likely stay elevated.

Earlier this week, the Labor Department reported an unexpected surge in job openings, which would indicate that employers are still having trouble filling positions.

However, ADP said Wednesday that private payrolls grew by just a net 89,000, well below Wall Street expectations.

All the data comes just ahead of Friday’s critical nonfarm payrolls report, which is expected to show an increase of 170,000 in September, down from 187,000 in August.