Good news seems to be building and includes surprisingly low jobless claims, data that had already been at the healthiest levels on record. Initial claims did rise 5,000 in the February 11 week but the 239,000 level is 7,000 below Econoday's consensus. And the week-ago comparison of 234,000 is one of the very lowest readings of the past 50 years. The 4-week average did rise slightly to 245,250 but is still slightly lower than the month-ago trend in a comparison that helps gauge the strength of the monthly employment report.
Continuing claims, where data lag by a week, are likewise holding at record lows, down 3,000 in the February 4 week to 2.076 million. This 4-week average at 2.080 million is also slightly lower than the month-ago comparison. The unemployment rate for insured workers remains near record lows, at 1.5 percent.
The back-to-back showing in the 230,000s is impressive but the outlook for monthly employment really won't start building until next week's initial claims data which will cover the sample of the February report. There are no special factors in today's data.
Initial jobless claims fell a very sharp 12,000 in the February 4 week to 234,000 with the 4-week average falling 3,750 to 244,250 and a new long-term low for this reading (since 1973). Forecasters see claims giving back some of the improvement in the February 11 week with a 12,000 increase to 246,000.