In their quarterly conference call on Thursday, Darden (DRI) CEO Gene Lee noted that the “workforce pool in the US is shrinking,” and this week’s Jobless Claims report confirmed that sentiment.  While first time claims were expected to come in at an absurdly low level of 210K, the actual reading was even lower at 201K.  That’s getting awfully close to a ‘1’ handle on the weekly print, which is a level we haven’t seen since November 1969.  With this week’s print, claims have now been at or below 300K for a record 195 straight weeks, at or below 250K below for 50 weeks (longest streak since January 1970), and at or below 225K for eleven straight weeks (longest streak since 1969).

With this week’s low print, the four-week moving average also ticked down to a new multi-decade low of 205.75K from 208K last week.  The last time the four-week average was this low was in December 1969.

Finally, on non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, claims ticked modestly higher, rising from 162.3K up to 168.3.  For the current week of the year, this is the lowest reading since 1969, and it’s nearly 120K below the average for the current week of the year dating back to 2000.

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