Tags: labor market | inflation | jobs | claims

Labor Market Firming as Inflation Remains Benign

Labor Market Firming as Inflation Remains Benign

(Dollar Photo Club)

Thursday, 11 August 2016 09:26 AM

 

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength in early August that could help spur faster economic growth.

Other data on Thursday showed an unexpected rise in import prices in July as a drop in petroleum prices was offset by gains in the cost of other goods. However, renewed dollar strength will likely dampen underlying inflation in the coming months.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 266,000 for the week ended Aug. 6, the Labor Department said. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labor market, for 75 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1973. The four week average of claims, considered to be a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 3,000 to 262,750.

With the labor market perceived to be either at or approaching full employment, there is probably little room for further declines in claims. A report on Wednesday showed layoffs fell to a near two-year low in June.

Prices of U.S. Treasuries were largely unchanged by the data. U.S. stock futures were trading slightly higher. The U.S. dollar rose against a basket of currencies.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said import prices edged up 0.1 percent last month after increasing 0.6 percent in June. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices falling 0.3 percent in July.

In the 12 months through July, import prices fell 3.7 percent, the smallest decrease since November 2014, after declining 4.7 percent in June.

Last month's gain came despite a rise in the dollar against the currencies of the United States' main trading partners in July. The dollar lost some steam early in the year. Oil prices which had started to rise toward $50 per barrel, fell in July. Oil prices are now below $45 per barrel.

The combination of dollar strength and cheap oil will likely continue to dampen imported inflation pressures and keep overall inflation below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target.

Persistently low inflation suggests the U.S. central bank is unlikely to raise interest rates in the near term, even as the labor market approaches full employment.

The robust labor market is boosting consumer spending and putting a floor under the economy after an inventory correction and lower oil prices restricted GDP growth to an average 1.0 percent annualized rate in the last three quarters.

The economy added a total of 547,000 jobs in June and July. The low number of claims suggests job growth momentum was retained in early August.

 

© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


   
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Economy
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength in early August that could help spur faster economic growth.
labor market, inflation, jobs, claims
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2016-26-11
Thursday, 11 August 2016 09:26 AM
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