For the week ending Novemeber 10, initial jobless claims jumped 78,000 to an 18-month high of 439,000. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the one-week increase in jobless claims was the largest since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
Initial jobless claims measure the number of people (non industry-specific) filing first-time claims for state unemployment insurance. This report provides a timely, but often misleading, indicator of the direction of the economy, with changes in claims potentially signaling changes in job growth. It is assumed the stronger the job market, the greater the spending power, the healthier the economy. Weekly claims are volatile and data can be skewed by holidays; therefore, many analysts track a four week moving average of data to get a better sense of the underlying trend in claims.