After coming in at 230K two weeks in a row, seasonally adjusted Initial Jobless Claims fell this week down to 228K. While off of the highest level in recent weeks, this small 2K decline leaves claims still near the upper end of where they have recently been. This comes after two straight weeks in early April where the indicator came in at its lowest level in 50 years. Though it has not made new lows, this was the 69th week with claims below 250K and the 218th week below 300K, so claims still appear healthy.
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With the first week of April, when claims came in at a 50-year low of 196K (which has since been revised up to 204K), rolling off of the four-week moving average, the less volatile look at claims has risen to 220.25K from 212.5K last week. This uptick is pretty predictable given the addition of higher readings over the past few weeks. Looking towards next week, it is very plausible that another uptick will be seen as the last of the April lows again rolls off the average. While the moving average has also yet to make a new low since its 50-year lows last month, like the seasonally adjusted number, it still remains at solid levels and is not flashing signs of significant moves higher.
Non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) claims were pretty flat this week with a decline of only 1.3K to 203.5K. While this is still a very healthy reading well below the average for the current week of the year since 2000 (303.5K), there has been one trend in the NSA data to make note of. This week marked the eighth time this year that the NSA number saw a year-over-year increase. That is the highest number of weeks with a YoY increase for a year since 2016 when there were ten throughout the whole year. This week also makes 2019 tied with 2013 for the second highest number of such increases in a year since the crisis. Again, 2013 saw eight over the span of all 52 weeks. Given that it is only May, the last time claims rose as many times by this point in the year was 2009. Fortunately, things are still better than in 2009 as every single week up through the end of October saw a YoY increase that year. In other words, the high frequency of increases versus one year ago in the NSA number, while it could still be much worse, is a bit of a concern as it could be showing last year as a potential bottom for claims. But the fact that deterioration has not been rapid is reassuring.