Jobless claims remain very low, at 247,000 for initial claims in the January 7 week vs Econoday expectations for 255,000. The prior week is revised 2,000 higher and, at 237,000, is only 4,000 above the cycle low hit in mid-November. The 4-week average is steady at 256,500 and, if there is no change in initial claims, looks to fall by 7,000 in the next reporting week.
Continuing claims fell 29,000 in lagging data for the December 31 week to 2.087 million which is also where the 4-week average is. The unemployment rate for insured workers remains at a very low 1.5 percent.
This time of year, given short holiday weeks, is always difficult to adjust for, yet the data continue to point to stable and healthy conditions in the labor market. Though 7 states for initial claims were estimated in the December 31 week and 10 in the prior week, revisions have been limited. Only one state, Virginia, was estimated in the current week.
Initial claims had been trending higher in December before an outsized 28,000 decline in the December 31 week to 235,000. Forecasters see claims giving back most of the improvement with the consensus at 255,000 in what would be a 20,000 increase. Holiday volatility aside, claims data remain at or near historic lows and consistent with a strong labor market.