Jobless claims for the latest week rose to 277K from last week’s reading of 273K. While the increase (+4K) was extremely small, economists were actually predicting a small decline to 272K. Interestingly enough, this week’s jump in jobless claims represents the fourth week in a row that they’ve risen. Four weeks in a row may not sound like much, but streaks of this length haven’t exactly been common over the last fifty years. Going back to 1967, there have only been 27 other times that jobless claims rose for four straight weeks. If jobless claims rise again next week it would be even more rare. Of those 27 prior periods, claims only increased for a fifth straight week eight times, and of those eight only two went on to a sixth straight week. Before we all go out and say the sky is falling, though, it is important to note that even after the four straight up weeks, claims are still below where they were six weeks ago.
With four straight up weeks in claims, the four-week moving average also ticked higher this week rising from last week’s multi-decade low of 266K up to 271.5K. Next week we will be dropping a level of 267K from the four-week count, so unless we see a nice improvement in claims, look for the four-week moving average to tick higher again. We have said it a few times before and thankfully were proven to be wrong, but it could be some time before we see the four-week moving average for jobless claims drop below last week’s level of 266K.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis (NSA), jobless claims dropped by 9.6K to 229.7K. For the current week of the year, this was the lowest reading since 1999 and was over 70K below the average for the current week of the year going back to 2000.