Initial jobless claims surge because of Hurricane Harvey

Initial jobless claims surged by 62,000 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Labour Department data released on Thursday showed.

Claims, which count the number of people who applied for unemployment for the first time, rose to 298,000 from the prior week’s unrevised reading of 236,000. The consensus from economists was for claims to tick up to 241,000.

Other economists said last week that claims would be one of the earliest indicators of Harvey’s impact, noting that they could see a huge spike in the weeks following the storm as Texans seek government assistance.

Similar trends were seen after Katrina and Sandy, which you can see in the chart below.

Initial jobless claims are used as a real-time proxy for the pace of layoffs, since people usually file for benefits soon after they lose their jobs.

The four-week moving average came in at 250,250, an increase of 13,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 236,750.

Claims have held below 300,000 since March 2015.

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