Weekly Jobless Claims Remain Stubbornly Low

October 27, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

Every Thursday brings a new report on initial jobless claims from the U.S. Department of Labor. There was a slight dip in the week ending October 22, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The preliminary figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 258,000 in the week ending October 22. This was decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised level, after the BLS increased last week’s figure to 261,000 claims from the preliminary 260,000. Bloomberg and Dow Jones were both calling for weekly claims of 255,000 this time.

In an effort to smooth out the weekly volatility, the four-week moving average is examined. That average was 253,000, which was a slight increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The BLS showed that the previous week’s average was revised up by a mere 250 from 251,750 to 252,000.

As we have become used to seeing all this year, the BLS report signaled that no special factors had an impact on this week’s initial claims.

Note that this marked 86 consecutive weeks of initial claims coming in under the 300,000 level. That is the longest streak since 1970.

The BLS reported that advanced seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.5% for the week ending October 15. That is unchanged from the previous week’s rate.

Also reported with a one-week lag is the report on continuing jobless claims. This effectively represents the army of the unemployed, as it is the count of people taking claims for multiple weeks. Continuing claims during the week ending October 15 were 2,039,000, a drop of 15,000 from the previous week’s revised level, and the lowest level for insured unemployment since June 24, 2000.

Until weekly jobless claims start to move back up, or unless they somehow go much lower, these weekly reports are unlikely to become great market movers like they had been in prior years.