After two weeks of significantly stronger (lower) than expected jobless claims reports, this week’s reading came in slightly higher than expected. While economists were forecasting first-time claims to come in at a level of 270K, the actual reading came in at 272K which was up 10K from last week. That’s the highest reading this month, and as shown in the inset chart below, it takes claims right up to that uptrend line it broke to the downside last week. Going forward, it is reasonable to expect claims to tick higher, but the key is that they stay stable and don’t suddenly spike above 300K.
Although the weekly reading increased this week, the four-week moving average actually declined slightly, falling from 273.25K down to 272K (the same level as the weekly reading). Again, this is a healthy reading as it’s just 13K above the cycle and multi-decade low of 259.25K from late October and the lowest since mid-December.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, claims continue to come in solid. At a level of 248.7K, claims are more than 100K below the average of 348.9K for the current week going back to 2000, and to find a week where claims were lower in this particular week of the year, you have to go all the way back to 1973.