Hurricane impacts appear to be fading as initial jobless claims fell 12,000 in the September 30 week to 260,000 which hits Econoday's low estimate. Claims in Texas continue to come down following Hurricane Harvey's late August strike while claims in Florida and Georgia, both hit by Hurricane Irma at mid-month, are also coming down. Overall continuing claims, in lagging data for the September 23 week, rose very slightly to 1.938 million.
Claims in Puerto Rico, struck by both Irma and most critically by Maria late last month, continue to be estimated. Initial claims in the Virgin Islands, which are not being estimated, spiked by nearly 1,000 to 1,039 which offers a hint at possible future effects when Puerto Rico begins filing its own data.
Yet the message of this report is positive, suggesting that the labor-market impact from this season's heavy run of hurricanes will prove far more limited than Katrina's strike in 2005. Initial claims are only about 20,000 higher from their mid-August trend. Today's report may boost expectations for a respectable showing in tomorrow's September employment report.
Hurricane volatility has made initial jobless claims very difficult to forecast but the consensus for the September 30 week is 265,000 vs 272,000 in the prior week. Claims in Texas following Hurricane Harvey have eased back but claims in Florida after Hurricane Irma have been on the rise. Claims in Puerto Rico, where unemployment offices have been closed following Hurricane Maria, are likely to estimated once again.