After posting a sub-220k reading last week, economists were projecting that initial jobless claims would come in at 225k this week. When the actual number was released at 8:30 AM ET today (as it is every Thursday at this time), it was a bit surprising to see a spike up to 242k — 17k higher than expected.
Below is a chart of seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims going back to 2005. As shown, the long-term downtrend for claims remains intact, but this week’s spike took the reading up to the top of the downtrend channel. Given the unprecedented strength in claims over the last couple of years, any consecutive readings above 250k would be a cause for concern in our view.
The uptick to 242k this week took the 4-week moving average for claims up to 228,250, an increase of 5k from last week.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, initial jobless claims came in at 200.9k. As shown below, 200.9k is the lowest print for this specific week since at least 2005, and it’s more than 100k below the average of 314k for this specific week since 2000.