Seasonally adjusted jobless claims rose after dropping last week to the lowest level in three months (which was revised up to 207K).  With a reading of 215K, claims came in slightly above estimates of 214K. While claims are currently at the lower end of the past year’s range, other than a few spikes higher and lower, there has been no significant consistent trend higher or lower over the past 12 months (gray shaded chart below). That does not mean the data has not been healthy though as claims have remained at or below 250K and 300K for record streaks of 95 and 230 weeks, respectively.

While it may not be evident in the weekly seasonally adjusted numbers, the four-week moving average has been continuing to trend lower. This week marked the fourth straight week with a decline in the moving average falling from 213.25K last week to 211.5K. This decline was largely a result of a recent high of 222K coming off of the average. This average is also now at its lowest level since mid-April’s multi-decade low and would need to fall another 10K to take out this low to help confirm the trend lower is still alive and well.

This time of year typically has favorable seasonality for jobless claims as a large drop is usually observed after a short term peak a few weeks prior. This year is following this pattern to a tee as NSA claims dropped to 177.9K from 196.4K last week and the recent peak of 243.6K the week before that. Seasonality aside, 177.9K is still the lowest print for non-seasonally adjusted claims for any week in ten months. At its current levels, NSA claims are also at the lowest level for the current week of the year for this cycle, but this year did see a much smaller degree of change year-over-year than previous years; a 2K decline versus declines of 20.9K and 18.9K for the comparable week in the past two years.

While claims are still at healthy levels, the trend lower has not been as strong as it has been in prior years.  Initial claims data has hinted at this but continuing claims are perhaps a more obvious example. Back in October of last year, continuing claims fell to a multi-decade low of 1649K.  Since then though, there has not been a new low despite coming close in April and May.  Since the spring, claims has been slowly grinding higher once again with another uptick to 1699K this week.  So overall, while labor market data still is healthy and low by historical standards, the rate of improvement has subsided a bit. Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our interactive economic indicators monitor and much more.

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