The number of Americans applying for new unemployment benefits fell for a third week in the last four, showing a resilient and healthy US labour market. Initial jobless claims decreased by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 in the week ended Dec. 24th.
These figures tend to fluctuate around the year-end holidays, however it is clear that demand for workers remains steady and the pool of available labour is dwindling. Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 95 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1970, a time when the U.S. workforce and population were far smaller than they are today. On December 14th, when the Fed announced it was raising short term interest rates, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen commented on the US’s strong labour market and how resilient the economy was.
Oil prices slipped yesterday, after government data showed that US stockpiles rose last week more than expected. Trading volumes were thin however, with many investors away for year-end holidays. Both crude oil benchmarks have made strong gains this month, after OPEC and other producers have agreed to curb production in an attempt to balance oversupply. The overall trend still appears to be upwards, with oil producers committed to agreed output cuts.
Migration Watch, a right-leaning think tank, has warned that membership of the Single Market encourages mass immigration and will cause the UK to grow by a "city the size of Birmingham every two years".
In a report, the organisation said that the UK's population will grow by 12.2m by 2039, unless the UK pushes for a so-called hard Brexit. The report went on to say that remaining a full member of the Single Market will require continued acceptance of the free movement of people. "This, combined with very large wage disparities between the UK and Eastern Europe and high levels of unemployment in Southern Europe, has led to very high levels of net migration from the EU," it said.