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Jobless Claims Drop to a Five Year Low

Jobless claims came in considerably better than expected for the second straight week today.  While economists were looking for claims to rise to 460K, the actual reading came in at 430K.  This was down 5K from last week, and it was the lowest reading since January 2008.  Looking at the chart below, the trend in claims over the last several weeks following Hurricane Sandy has continued to follow the pattern of claims in the period following Huricane Katrina in 2005.  If the pattern continues, look for claims to drfit higher in the weeks and months ahead.

With today's drop in the weekly reading, the four-week moving average of jobless claims also fell to 351.8K.  This represents a new post-recession low, and it is the lowest level since March 2008.

Looking at initial claims on a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, today's report was not as positive.  As shown in the chart below, claims dropped from 556.7K down to 436.8K.  Although this is a large decline, it is typical to see claims decline at this time of year.  Furthermore, while this week's NSA reading in claims for this week is below the average for this particular week going back to 2000, last year at this time NSA claims were actually lower.