After four straight weeks of lower than expected readings, jobless claims for the latest week came in higher than expected and hit a six-week high in the process. While economists were forecasting first-time claims to come in at a level of 262K, the actual reading came in at 276K. While it’s the highest level since late September, as the chart below illustrates, jobless claims remain in a well-defined downtrend.
This week’s increase in jobless claims moved the four-week moving average for claims back up to 262.75K. While this is within 4K of the cycle low hit last week, in the next couple of weeks we are going to be dropping some low numbers from the count, so it is unlikely we will see claims make a new low anytime soon. Yes, we have said that before and we hope to be ultimately proved wrong, but at this point the odds favor a move higher in the four-week average.
On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, jobless claims rose by 13.3K up to 258.7K. While this is up from last week, it is still close to 100K below the historical average of 353K for the current week of the year since 2000.