In addition to last week’s original print of 209K being revised up to 211K, this week’s initial jobless claims came in a bit weaker than expectations of 214K, rising to 220K.  This brings the seasonally adjusted indicator back towards the middle of the past year’s range after it has remained at the lower end of that same range for most of the summer.  Claims are now at the highest level since the last week of June when they read 222K.  While not an improvement, this week’s data was also not any significant worsening.  In fact, the record streaks at or below 250K and 300K continue to grow now at 97 and 232 weeks, respectively.

As we have repeatedly mentioned recently, labor data is still by all means at healthy levels but has not been improving at the same rate that it has for most of the cycle. This continues to be evident in the four-week moving average which rose 1K this week to 213.75K.  This was the third consecutive week with an increase in the moving average. Granted the degree of these increases has been no larger than 1K!

While it still has generally been moving lower, the degree of change (on a year-over-year basis) of claims has not been large. The most the moving average has improved by in the past three months was a 7K YoY drop at the end of May whereas most weeks of the current cycle have seen a double-digit decline YoY.  We expand on this dynamic in the chart below showing the rolling 3 month average YoY change in the level of seasonally adjusted data. As shown, the size of that average change has shrunk in the past year.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, claims moved higher to 186K from 179.9K last week.  While healthily below the average for this week of the year of 288.75K, this is a higher value than the comparable week last year (180K).

This marked the 12th YoY uptick in NSA claims in 2019.  Similarly, for the SA data, it was also the 12th week with a YoY increase. Despite having a few months left this year, 2019 has seen the highest frequency of weeks with YoY increases in claims since the financial crisis. While claims remain extremely low by historical standards, it’s likely that somewhere around 200k is the ultimate floor.  Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our interactive economic indicators monitor and much more.

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