After three straight weeks of declines, initial jobless claims dropped slightly more than economists were forecasting for their largest weekly decline since April. After hitting a level of just under 300K (296K) last week, jobless claims fell by 15K to 281K this week versus estimates of 283K. With this week’s reading, jobless claims have now been under 300K for 19 straight weeks. That’s the longest streak in 15 years (June 2000).
Although the weekly reading declined this week, the four-week moving saw a slight uptick, rising from 279.5K up to 282.5K. It has now been 9 weeks since we hit the post-recession low of 266.5K in mid-May.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis (NSA), jobless claims rose by 40K to 344K. While that increase looks large, as the chart below illustrates, NSA claims typically rise at this time of year. In fact, for the current week of the year, NSA claims are 115K below the average of 459.1K dating back to 2000. Additionally, to find a year where NSA claims were this low for the current week of the year, you have to go all the way back to 1988.