Jobless claims for the latest week came in slightly ahead of forecasts, rising from 260K up to 272K. According to the DoL release, “Hurricanes Harvey and Irma [and Maria] impacted this week’s claims.” While it will be a few more weeks before claims are fully back to their normal trend, when you consider the impact that Katrina and Sandy had back in 2005 and 2012, the fact that claims never got above 300K this time around is really something else. This year we’ve seen three major hurricanes impact US states or territories. With the streak remaining intact, jobless claims have now been under 300K for 134 straight weeks.
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While weekly claims are pulling in from their recent highs, the impacts of the hurricanes on the four-week moving average are still being felt. In this week’s report, the four-week moving average increased to 277.75K, which is the highest reading for that indicator since January 2016. But even this should start pulling in again next week.
Non-seasonally adjusted claims have also been strong despite the hurricanes. This week’s print increased to 215K from 213K and is 77K below the average for the current week of the year going back 2000. In fact, going back to 1967, claims have only been lower in the current week of the year six other times and only once since 1973. We can only imagine how low claims might have been without the major hurricanes over the last six weeks.