Hurricane Harvey Lifts US Jobless Claims to Two-Year High

Hurricane Harvey Lifts US Jobless Claims to Two-Year High”

Weekly jobless claims hit 298,000 in the week ending September 2, an increase of 62,000 from the previous week's 236,000, the highest level for initial claims since April 18, 2015, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast claims to total 242,000.

The number of people seeking US unemployment benefits soared last week by the most in almost five years, driven by Hurricane Harvey's impact on Texas and Louisiana.

And the increase from the prior week was the largest in almost five years, with claims for unemployment insurance in Texas alone rising more than four fold. A Labor Department official said last week's data had been impacted by Hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Texas with mass flooding. "But it still remains unclear exactly how large the disruptions will be and how long they will last". As a result, Americans are enjoying a high degree of job security.

Jobless claims could remain elevated for weeks in the aftermath of Harvey, especially if Hurricane Irma hits the East Coast hard. "But claims so far suggest that the hit to the national job market from Harvey will be limited".

"Monthly job growth weakened in the wakes of Katrina and Sandy, but did not outright decline", he said. USA nonfarm employers have added jobs every month since October 2010, according to Labor Department data.

Beyond short-term noise, the economic impact of the hurricane should come into focus over the coming weeks and months. Employment may be depressed initially until rebuilding and recovery efforts in flooded areas around Houston take hold.

More broadly, the USA labor market remained on solid footing in late summer.

Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, dipped by 5,000 to 1.940 million in the week ended August 26th.

The Labor Department provided no estimate for the precise extent to which Harvey affected the weekly numbers.

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