An economic data release isn't something you would normally get overly excited about, but Thursday morning's jobless claims report just makes you say, "Wow." For months, if not years now, jobless claims have been dropping to levels that economists thought couldn't get much lower, and yet here we are this week with another new multi-year low. While economists were expecting first time claims to come in at a level of 257K versus last week's tally of 254K, the actual reading came in 22K lower at 235K. That was the best reading relative to expectations since July 2015 and the lowest weekly reading since 1973!
With this week's sharp decline in jobless claims, the four-week moving average declined to 253.5K from last week's level of 260K. That's still 4K above the cycle low of 249.5K reached six weeks ago, but has yet to make a new cycle low. Another week like this one, though, and the four-week moving average will also make a new low.
On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, this week's jobless claims report was even better than the seasonally adjusted number. This week's NSA reading dropped 33.2K down to 225.4K. For the current week of the year, that's more than 140K below the average for the current week of the year since 2000 and the lowest level since 1969.