U.S. jobless claims have hit their lowest point in nearly half a century. The U.S. Labor Department's Oct. 13 report states that people filing for unemployment benefits has reached a 43-year low, and may signal a rise in interest rates come December.
"The data are making the Fed's current policy look too wrong-footed and the markets are waiting for them to get back on track, most likely in December," Chris Rupkey, chief economist with MUFG Union Bank, told Reuters.
Jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 8 held at a seasonally adjusted 246,000, a number unseen since November 1973.
“These numbers are really remarkable given that the labor force is obviously a lot bigger than it was in 1973,” Patrick Newport, economist with IHS Global Insight, told Bloomberg. “They tell us of a relatively healthy labor market ... Even though claims are down, there’s still slack in the labor market.”
While jobless claims have dropped, so too have job openings.
"These data can be volatile and the openings rate is still fairly high, so it is too early to tell whether this is a signal or just the noise of volatile monthly data," said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics, reports Reuters. "However, if this drop is sustained, it could be a sign of increased caution on the part of businesses."
"The bigger concern in the data is that openings declined year-over-year in some high-wage industries, like finance, professional services and information," said Jed Kolko, chief economist for Indeed.com. "Plus, last Friday's jobs report showed slower job growth in higher-wage industries. These factors are worth watching."
But Kolko later added, "Nearly two-thirds of job separations are people voluntarily quitting rather than getting laid off or fired. That's a good indicator that workers are confident they will find new jobs.”