Daily Economic Update: Jobless Claims, Factory Orders

Each day the Research staff takes a look at recently released economic indicators, addressing what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update highlights jobless claims and factory orders.


  • The number of new jobless claims fell slightly last week, by 6,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 388,000. The prior week’s numbers were, however, revised up to 394,000 from an originally reported 382,000. This week’s release reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjusted factors which caused the slight increase in compared to figures reported previously. The four-week moving average of new claims, which smooths out volatile weekly data, rose by 3,250 to 394,250.
  • Since the middle of February, claims have been mostly below 400,000, widely deemed the point at which the economy is gaining more jobs than is losing. The number of continuing claims fell by 51,000 to 3,714,000 in the week ended March 19.
  • The breakdown of new claims by state showed that Illinois had the largest drop in claims, 2,696, due to slower layoffs in the construction, service and manufacturing industries. North Carolina reported the largest increase in claims with a gain of 974. There had been 984,000 net new job additions in the past 12 months to January.
  • Assuming that jobless claims continue to trend down, NAR expects about 1.5 to 2 million net new jobs in the next 12 months.
  • New factory orders for February showed a slight dip in February, following a robust gain in December and January’s very strong 3.3 percent increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.1 percent.
  • Even with February’s slight decline, factory orders totaled $446 billion. That indicates a healthy status to economists, and it is 26.4 percent higher than the recession low of March 2009. Shipments, on the rise for the past six months, increased 0.3 percent. This is also following a robust 1.7 percent January increase. Inventories edged up 0.8 percent, following a 1.5 percent January increase.

Selma Hepp, Research Economist

Selma Hepp, Research Economist, regularly monitors and writes columns on latest academic research in housing and urban economics, foreclosures, international housing markets, and demographic trends. Selma also reports on federal and state metropolitan planning policy impacts.

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