Although jobless claims saw a slight increase in the latest week, they continue to defy expectations with just how low they come in week after week.  In this week’s report, first-time claims increased from 251K up to 254K versus expectations of 260K.  This week’s print makes it 82 straight weeks that claims have been below 300K, which is the longest streak in nearly half a century.

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What really stood out about this week’s report is the four-week moving average, which fell to 256K, tying the cycle low reading from April, which was the lowest level since 1972.  Looking ahead to next week, provided there are no upward revisions, any reading below 259K will take the four-week moving average to a new cycle low.

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On a non-seasonally adjusted basis (NSA), jobless claims dropped back down below 200K to 198K.  For the current week of the year, that is more than 100K below the average of 300K dating back to 2000, and also the lowest reading for the current week of the year since 1972.

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