Initial jobless claims saw their largest weekly increase since mid-December this week, rising from 216K up to 233K. While the 17K increase may be relatively large, you have to keep in mind that last week’s reading was not only the lowest weekly print since the 1970s, but it was also revised lower from an originally reported 220K. At some point, claims just can’t drop any lower. With this week’s reading, claims have now been below 300K for 151 straight weeks!
Even as claims increased this week, the four-week moving average dropped by 3.5K down to 240K and barring big increases in weekly claims over the next two weeks, this reading should continue to drop as the next two weekly prints that will be falling off the count are 250K and 261K. As it stands now, the current four-week average is 8.75K above the prior cycle low of 231.25K, but that level may actually come into play in the coming weeks.
On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, this week’s report was the most impressive, though, as claims fell from 354.1K down to 262.3K. That’s more than 159K below the average for the current week of the year since 2000, and to find a year where claims were lower at this time of year than they are now, you have to go all the way back to…forever! Well, that’s not entirely accurate, but since the data for US jobless claims begins, NSA claims have never been lower for the current week of the year than they are now!