This week’s Initial Jobless Claims number came in at 232,000, which was the lowest print seen since the end of February (almost six months ago). As shown in the chart below, that makes it the second-lowest print of the current recovery and second-lowest since the 1970s despite huge expansion in population, labor force, and employment since then. Claims have been almost shockingly consistent in their declines for the last 6 years, with a nearly straight line down on the chart despite occasional short spikes higher.
The big drop in claims sequentially does a lot to flatten the 4 week moving average, which fell to 240.5k. It’s been lower a few times in recent memory and has definitely flattened out a bit, but it won’t take much over the next few weeks for it to keep dropping.
Disregarding the seasonal adjustment makes the weekly numbers look more impressive, not less. By our count, this is the lowest NSA initial jobless claims print for the current week of the year since the first year these statistics were kept. It’s drastically lower than the modern average for the current week and notably lower than prior weeks in this part of the calendar since 2000. Using claims as an indicator of labor market strength, it’s not hard to argue that the jobs picture continues to look excellent.