Jobless claims are back below 250,000. This week’s print of 249,000 is 1,000 above the cycle low of 248,000 printed in April, but the overall trend of extremely low claims has broadly persisted since that low. Despite occasional upticks, seasonally-adjusted claims have stuck near the lowest levels of the modern era. When claims were last this low, in the 1970s, the population and labor force were both dramatically smaller; it’s fair to call the current claims situation the strongest on record.
Unlike the current week claims figure, the four week average of initial claims did make a new low for the cycle. It’s much stronger than prior cycle lows from recent history, illustrating the persistent lack of layoffs from employers across the economy. New lows in this moving average are a good sign that the current economic expansion is continuing forward.
Relative to the average since 2000, non-seasonally adjusted claims are almost one-third below the average level they’ve made for this week of the year since 2000. They also made a new low for this week of the year relative to recent periods, confirming the strength displayed by seasonally adjusted claims.
Also notable in their strength were the continuing claims figures. They’re now knocking on the door of 2mm, having surged well above 6mm at the height of the crisis. Since August 5th, 117,000 workers have moved off of unemployment claims rolls. It’s important to note that these departures could have been workers finding jobs, or workers losing eligibility for benefits. Either way, the lack of new entrants to continuing claims rolls has failed to keep their numbers up; that’s a good sign for the labor market ahead of Friday’s September Employment Situation Report, including the nonfarm payrolls number.