US initial jobless claims rose 70k to 281k in the week ending March 14, well above expectation of 220k. It was also the highest reading since September 2017. Four-week moving average of initial claims rose 16.5k to 232.25. Continuing claims rose 2k to 1.701m in the week ending March 7. Four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped -7k to 1.703m.

DOL said, “During the week ending March 14, the increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus. A number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not.”

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