This week’s reading on initial jobless claims was expected to come in unchanged from last week at 215K. Instead, the indicator disappointed slightly with last week’s number being revised up to 216K and this week’s data showing 217K new jobless claims filed. In terms of the seasonally adjusted data, claims continue to remain in the middle of the past year’s range. Even though they were also flat over the past year (visible in the inlaid chart below), claims have in fact still been at very healthy levels. The streak of consecutive weeks at or below 300K has now grown to 235 weeks. This week also marked the 100th straight week of claims coming in at or below 250K! As has been the case for some time now, claims may not be improving or degrading at any significant rate, but the labor market is still holding up just fine.
The four-week moving average reinforces this point as it has also been flat for the past year and a half outside of the spike lower in April. This week, the moving average ticked up to 216.25K as the lower reading of 211K from the first week of August rolled off the average to be replaced with this week’s higher 217K. Again, as with the weekly seasonally adjusted data, the moving average is still at healthy levels relative to history even though the pace of improvements has slowed. Fortunately, looking ahead to next week, there is a good chance the moving average can make a move lower as the recent high of 221K will come off the average.
As we discussed last week, the end of August and beginning of September typically see the smallest average week-over-week changes in non-seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims data despite the yearly low typically coinciding around this time of year as well. That continues to hold true this week as the NSA data only rose by 1.5K compared to the average absolute move of 8K. This week’s reading of 178.4K is still well below the average for the current week since 2000, but it was 4.8K higher than the comparable week last year. The only other year of the cycle that the current week saw a YoY increase was in 2017 when it saw an unusual 32.9K increase YoY. Looking ahead to next week, the comparable week last year marked the lowest level in NSA data of the cycle at 162.6K. It would be a promising sign to see this low taken out, but given the higher frequency of YoY increases this year (second chart below), it is questionable if we will see that happen. Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our interactive economic indicators monitor and much more.