Jobless Claims Ease Ahead of May Unemployment Data

The US Department of Labor (DOL) received 10,000 fewer initial unemployment claims in the week ending May 29 than the previous week, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The news of fewer initial claims arrives a day ahead of officially updated unemployment rate figures. Economists anticipate the fragile recovery added 55,000 jobs to private sector employment and 700,000 to total non-farm payrolls in May. Based on unadjusted data, the DOL received 410,302 claims last week, a increase of more than 3,400 from the previous week but well below 500,380 seen in the same week last year. Missouri and New York, which saw a respective 1,189-count and 1,556-count jump in unadjusted initial claims for the week ending May 22, reported construction-centered layoffs. Pennsylvania, which recorded a 1,597-count drop in initial claims that week, noted fewer layoffs in the construction industry than the week before. The Automatic Data Processing (ADP) national employment report published today (download here) indicates private sector employment increased by a modest 55,000 in May, down slightly from a revised 65,000 gain in April, according to Capital Economics senior economist Paul Ashworth. “The official non-farm payroll figures for May, due for release this Friday, are likely to show a substantially bigger gain,” Ashworth said in an e-mail. “For a start the ADP covers only the private sector so the massive surge in workers hired to conduct the 2010 Census don’t show up.” He added: “The weekly figures we have from the Census Bureau show that, in the week that the payroll survey was conducted, employment of temporary census hires was 417,000 higher in May than it was in April.” Ashworth noted the ADP survey in recent months was “markedly more downbeat” than official non-farm payroll data. The ADP indicates employment increased at an average rate of 51,000 over the last three months, he said, whereas the payrolls survey suggests private sector employment actually grew by 156,000. “Which survey is correct? We suspect the official payroll survey may be closer to the truth,” Ashworth said. “Overall, we are happy to stick with our forecast that non-farm payrolls increased by 700,000 in May.” Write to Diana Golobay.

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