Unemployment, Manufacturing, Obamacare

November 19, 2015

Thursday – November 19

Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell in the latest week and now are near levels seen in the early 1970s. The Labor Department reported on Thursday that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims fell 5,000 in the latest week to 271,000, which was in line with expectations. The four week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, rose by 3,000 to 270,750, the highest in eight weeks, though still a very low number. The low level of claims signals an improving job market, while the economy remains on a steady upward growth pattern.

Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region improved marginally in November. The Philadelphia Fed Index rose to 1.9 in November from the -4.5 recorded in October. Within the report it showed that the new orders and shipment components remained negative, while the employment index improved overall, though there was a decline in average work hours. Manufacturing activity has been edging lower throughout the year, due in part to a decline in the energy sector.

In an about-face, UnitedHealth Group Inc. the U.S.’s biggest health insurer, is considering pulling out of Obamacare, a month after the insurer said that it would expand its presence in the program. The insurer is pulling back on marketing efforts for the plans it’s selling this year under the Affordable Care Act, and may exit from that market in 2017. UnitedHealth cited the business has proven to be more costly than expected.