In what has become an increasingly weak indicator since the Fed hiked rates in December, initial jobless claims came in higher than expected for the fourth straight week this morning. While economists were expecting first-time claims to come in at a level of 278K, the actual reading came in at 293K. That’s the highest weekly reading since July. At the rate things are going, the 46-week streak of sub 300K weekly readings may not have much longer to go.
With this week’s increase and the increases we have seen in the last several weeks, the four-week moving average ticked up to 285K which is the highest level for this average since March. This number is even more troubling given that it implies a more persistent increase in claims rather than just a one-week phenomenon.
The only bright spot of today’s jobless claims report was the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) reading, which dropped from 502.9K down to 377.7K. Before jumping up and down because the NSA reading fell more than 125K, keep in mind that it is typical to see claims drop by a large amount during the middle of January. That being said, for the current week of the year, this week’s NSA reading was more than 130K below the average of 508K since 2000 and the lowest weekly reading since 1969.