3/20: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

Initial unemployment claims soar 70,000, or one-third, in weekly report

In the week ending March 14, initial unemployment claims were 281,000, an increase of 70,000 (33 percent) from the previous week’s unrevised level of 211,000. This is the highest level for initial claims since September 2,

2017 when it was 299,000. The 4-week moving average was 232,250, an increase of 16,500 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018 when it was 234,500.



Pre-pandemic February Leading Economic Index edged up another 0.1 percent to 112.1

The U.S. LEI rose 0.1 percent in February to 112.1, but it doesn’t reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which began to hit the U.S. economy in full by early March. In particular, the recovery in manufacturing, which looked promising until February, will now be short-lived because of the disruption in global supply chains and falling demand.



Job openings had rebounded 6.8 percent in January as excess jobs gap edged up over 1 million

The number of job openings jumped up 6.8 percent to 7.0 million on the last business day of January. Hires fell 1.7 percent to 5.8 million, separations fell 2.7 percent to 5.6 million, while quits edged up by 0.1 percent to 3.5 million. The gap between available jobs and the officially number of unemployed persons in January rebounded sharply to 1.07 million.



February new home mortgage applications slipped 1.0 percent from January, but up 25.9 percent year-on-year

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey (BAS) data for February 2020 shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 25.9 percent compared from a year ago. Compared to January 2020, applications decreased by 1 percent.