Jobless claims have been at historically low levels for quite some time now, and the headline reading has been below 300K for 40 straight weeks. This week’s report, however, exceeded expectations by one of the larger margins we have seen this year. While economists were expecting claims to come in at a level of 270K, the actual level came in at 282K, up 13K from last week. As just another example of how strong weekly jobless claims reading have been, there have only been seven other weeks this year where weekly claims saw a larger increase. This week’s reading was also the highest weekly reading since the first week of July.
Although the weekly reading saw a relatively large increase, the four-week moving average increased by less than 2K, rising to 270.75K from 269.25K last week. At this level, the four-week moving average is still within 12K of the cycle low from 10/23 (259.25K).
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis (NSA), claims spiked by 121.9K to 384.5K. As shown in the chart below, though, NSA claims always rise at this time of year and are still more than 100K below their average for the current week dating back to 2000. In fact, the last time claims were lower than now at this time of the year was in 1999. Looking at the chart, NSA claims should continue to spike over the next few weeks through early January.