Jobless claims were lower than expected this week and continue to hang around near their lowest levels in decades. While economists were expecting claims to rise from 231K up to 235K, they actually fell slightly to 230K. Throughout the entire economic expansion, jobless claims have only been lower in five different weeks. Furthermore, claims have now been below 300K for 152 straight weeks. If they stay below that level for another ten weeks, it will represent the longest streak of sub-300K readings on record (going back to the late 1960s), and this doesn’t even take population growth into account!
The four-week moving average for jobless claims also declined this week, falling from 239.5K down to 234.5K. That puts this reading within 3.5K of the multi-decade low of 231.25K from early November. Next week, the four-week moving average will drop a reading of 261K from the count, so barring a big increase in claims, we should see this reading make a new cycle-low next week.
On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, jobless claims were just as positive. This week’s level of 267.7K is more than 115K below the average reading for the current week of the year dating back to 2000. To find the same week of the year where NSA claims were lower, you have to go all the way back to 1973.