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Jobless Claims Crater

If there has been one consistently positive data series in the multitude of economic data we are regularly bombarded with, it is jobless claims.  In this week's release, economists were forecasting claims to rise by 4K from last week's level of 303K.  The actual reading, though, came in 23K below forecasts at 284K.  So, how does 284K stack up against prior readings?  In order to find a lower weekly reading you have to go all the way back to February 2006!

With this week's lower than expected weekly reading, we also saw a sizable decline in the four-week moving average of jobless claims, which fell from 309.25K down to 302K.  This represents a new post-recession low and is the lowest level since April 2006.

On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, jobless claims fell by 78.3K down to 292.3K.  For the current week of the year, this is the lowest reading since 2006, and is more than 100K below the historical average of 394.75K for the current week dating back to 2000.  With regards to the low NSA reading, we heard more than one comment dismissing the low reading as a seasonal distortion.  That's fair enough, but when you compare it to the same week of prior years this week's reading was still impressive.  Ironically enough, though, the same people who dismiss the NSA readings when they are  low are the same people who cite their importance towards the end of the year when seasonal distortions make them high.