Rise in Unemployment Claims Bodes Ill for Housing Market

The state Unemployment Development Department offices in Calexico, Calif.
The state Unemployment Development Department offices in Calexico, Calif.

The number of newly-fired workers who filled out claims for unemployment grew again last week. The rate of initial unemployment claims rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 473,000 a week for the week ending February 13, according to the Dept. of Labor.

That's up 31,000 from the week before, leading to a flurry of dour headlines. However, the overall trend for the past month, as reflected by a four-week moving average, is still gradually improving. The average rate of new unemployment claims over four weeks was 467,500, down 1,500 from the week before.

Still, the unexpected rise dampens some of the enthusiasm generated by last month's decline in the unemployment rate, which fell to 9.7 percent for January, and casts doubt on a near term housing market recovery.