Initial jobless claims continued to improve last week with claims falling 3,000 to 420,000. For continued claims, the four-week average is at 4.186 million and makes the sixth week of a fallen four-week average. This suggests that continued claims have been falling at 150,000 – 200,000 claims per month and indicates improvement in the employment sector. New York state had the largest jump in claims, 16,863 new claims, due to layoffs in the construction, service and transportation sectors. Iowa had the largest decrease in claims, 2,146 drop, due to fewer layoffs in the construction and manufacturing industries.
Another positive piece of news came from housing starts, which posted a 3.9 percent increase in November. This is after a significant drop of 11.1 percent the month before. Taken on an annual basis, this suggests 0.555 million units built over the past year, which is down 5.8 percent from a year ago. The increase in November starts was led by single-family starts, while multifamily starts were down.
The largest increase in housing starts was in the Midwest which posted a 15.8 percent increase from the month before. Following were the South and West regions, up 2.3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. The Northeast fell 2.5 percent. Housing permits were down in November, 4.0 percent, which was largely due to drop in multifamily component, 23.0 decline. Single-family permits were up 3.0 percent.