The Department of Labor’s weekly Initial Jobless Claims released this morning showed a 10K increase from last week’s upwardly revised reading of 217K.  Now at 227K, claims are at their highest level since May 3rd when they were slightly higher at 228K. This brings the indicator towards the upper end of the past year’s range, but claims also still remain very low historically.  This week marked a record 90 weeks that claims came in at or below 250K. The previous record stood at 89 weeks ending January 10th, 1970.  Additionally, the streak of readings at or below 300K rises to its 225th consecutive week.

The less volatile four-week average also moved slightly higher this week rising to 221.25K from 219K last week.  Like the weekly data, the moving average currently sits at the upper end of its range from the past year and the last time it made a new low was back in April. As the moving average is off of these recent lows, it has also moved higher YoY for the ninth week in 2019. In 2018, there wasn’t a single week with a YoY increase and over the course of all of 2017, there were only 5 weeks with YoY increases.

Non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) jobless claims saw yet another year-over-year increase as claims rose to 224.1K versus 222.8K one year ago.  Now just about halfway through 2019, there have been ten weeks with a YoY increase in the NSA data (this is the same case for the seasonally adjusted data as well).  Like the moving average, for this point in the year, this is a significant increase in the frequency of these increases from prior years. For reference, over the course of all 52 weeks in the entire year, 2018 only had two weeks and 2017 only had seven weeks with a similar YoY increase. In other words, labor market data is still at a strong level—NSA data is still well below the average for the current week since 2000, SA data has held onto impressive streaks, etc.—but it also has not been improving at anywhere near the same rate as we saw in 2017 and 2018. Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our interactive economic indicators monitor and much more.

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