This week’s report on jobless claims came in lower than expected with another impressive reading. While economists were forecasting first-time claims to come in at a level of 265K, the actual reading came in 12K lower at 253K. This was the lowest weekly reading since April and is tied for the second lowest weekly reading of the current cycle. Just when you think claims have to start levelling off or rising, they start falling again!
With three straight weeks of sub-260K readings, the four-week moving average is now within 2K of its multi-decade low of 256K. We thought it was extraordinary enough that the four-week moving average dropped as low as 256K back in April in the first place, but we honestly never thought it would get back down towards those levels again. If we see another reading like the last three next weeks, the four-week moving average will set another cycle low next week.
On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, jobless claims came in at 269.2K. While we are used to noting that the weekly NSA reading is the lowest for the current week of the year going back to the early 1970s, this week’s reading was actually slightly higher than the same week last year. Relative to readings for the current week of the year dating back to 2000, though, this week’s level was nearly 150K below the 415K average, so it was hardly weak.