Jobless claims came in lower than expected for the second time in a row this week, beating what almost appears to be a stale consensus forecast. While economists were forecasting claims to come in at a level of 265K, the actual reading was 4K lower at 261K. The reason we referred to the consensus estimate as being stale is that it has been 265K for six of the last seven weeks. In the economists’ defense, though, the weekly print of jobless claims has been in the 260Ks range for five straight weeks. From a longer-term perspective, claims have now been below 300K for 77 straight weeks, and that’s the longest streak below 300K since 1970.
With five straight weekly readings in the 260K range, it should come as no surprise that the four-week moving average is also in the 260Ks, specifically 264K. It has now been 18 weeks since the four-week moving average made its cycle low of 256K, and in order to get back down there, claims will need to take another leg lower.
Finally, on a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, jobless claims fell to 216.6K, which is more than 80K below the average for the current week dating back to 2000 and the lowest reading for the current week of the year since 1973.