After two straight weeks with a two-handle, jobless claims rose back above 300K this week. While economists were expecting first time claims to come in at 287K, the actual reading was 17K higher at 304K. Even with the higher than expected reading, though, we would stress the fact that claims are still exceptionally low by historical standards.
Even after this week’s increase in claims, the four-week moving average declined from 293K to 289.75K. This is the lowest level for the four-week moving average since mid-November, but is still nearly 11K above the post-recession low of 279K from 15 weeks ago in late October.
On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, initial claims rose by 17.1K to a level of 323.7K. For the current week of the year, this is the lowest level since 2005, and more than 88K below the historical average of 412.1K for the current week dating back to 2000.