Initial jobless claims data were released this morning without any major new developments, largely as a result of seasonal effects. Last week saw claims come in at the lower end of their recent range at 209K. This reading was revised up to 211K and this week’s release showed another small increase to 215K, which was slightly ahead of the 214K forecast. Although claims came in weaker than expected, they remain at strong levels.
Likewise, the four-week moving average came in pretty flat once again this week only falling by 0.5K. With this modest improvement to 214.5K, through all of August, the moving average has been in a tight 2.25K range. This range is also still off of its lows set earlier this year in April.
Most of the reason for the lack of movement this week in initial jobless claims data is due to seasonal effects. Looking back at the current week of the year (34th week) over the past ten years, non-seasonally adjusted claims has only seen an average week-over-week change, in absolute terms, of just 3.4K. As shown in the second chart below, that is the smallest change for any given week of the year. That also actually makes this week’s 4.2K increase to 175.6K larger than normal. But still sticking to the script of little changes as well as the broader trend of slowing improvements in labor data, this week’s NSA data was only 0.1K lower year over year. One important thing to consider with this minor improvement from last year, over the next couple of weeks, non-seasonally adjusted claims typically make their yearly low. In other words, in the coming weeks, we should be able to get a pretty good idea on how this year’s low stacks up to prior years of the cycle. Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our interactive economic indicators monitor and much more.