Jobless claims came in higher than expected this week but still remain right near their lows of the cycle.  While economists were expecting first time claims to come in at a level of 207K, the actual reading came in at 214K.  Despite the higher than expected reading, claims have still been at or below 300K for a record 188 straight weeks, at or below 250K for 53 straight weeks, and at or below 225K for 14 straight weeks.  By all accounts, claims remain low.

The four-week moving average for claims increased from 207K up to 209.5K.  That’s just 3.5K above the cycle low of 206K from mid-September, but based on the recent readings, it doesn’t look as though we will challenge that low anytime soon.

On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, jobless claims also ticked higher but managed to stay below 200K.  At 199.2K, this week’s reading was the lowest for the current week of the year since 1969 and more than 120K below the average of 323.3K for the current week of the year dating back to 2000.  Signs of a pickup in claims still aren’t showing up.

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