Today’s initial jobless claims release was expected to come in unchanged from last week’s reading of 215K.  Instead, claims fell to 209K while last week’s data was revised up to 217K.  After reaching recent highs in June, initial jobless claims been in a tight range between 208K and 217K all summer with this week’s print being at the low end of this range. Claims also held onto their record streaks below 250K and 300K at 96 and 213 weeks, respectively.

Despite the lower reading this week in the seasonally adjusted number, the four-week moving average actually moved up ever so slightly to 212.25K compared to 212K last week.  Even with the increase, though, the four-week moving average remains right near its lows for the cycle.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, claims also saw a very small change only falling 0.2K to 178.7K.  That is the smallest week-over-week change for any week since last October.  For the current week of the year (31st week), this was the smallest absolute change week over week since 1986 when it rose by 0.2K. In the history of the data, the current week of the year has averaged a decline of 16.65K as the indicator is usually still working off of its seasonal peak from a few weeks prior. Despite the minor move lower, at the current level, unadjusted claims are now at the lowest levels since the post-recession cycle lows reached last September. Overall, although it continues to reaffirm labor market strength, this week’s release also further epitomizes the slower pace of improvement that we have recently seen in the labor market. Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our interactive economic indicators monitor and much more.

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