The U.S. Labor Department has reported its weekly jobless claims for the last week, and it was a surprisingly good economic report. Despite weaker data elsewhere in rival economic reports, weekly claims fell by a sharp 23,000 to 264,000. The prior week’s report was left unchanged at 287,000. The consensus estimate for this week was 290,000 by both Bloomberg and Dow Jones. This was also the lowest reading in years.
The trend of late is that weaker economic readings have been seen, but not in jobs data. Financial markets and investors are getting ever more worried about slowing growth in Europe and China. So far, this has yet to wreck gains in the labor market.
Trends have been under 300,000 in weekly jobless claims, and any reading that is less than 300,000 likely will be acceptable to market participants.
Last week’s report on the four-week average was down 4,250 to a 283,500 — also a new recovery low.
Continuing claims have a one-week lag, and the army of the unemployed actually rose by 7,000 to 2.4 million after having previously seen a post-recovery low.
With this report being on layoffs, it looks as though companies are not yet firing workers as other economic readings are starting to crumble. Should we make a reminder that unemployment is a lagging indicator?
Stock futures were well off their lows Thursday morning, but S&P 500 futures were down 21 points and DJIA futures were down 160 points on last look.