Jobless claims are very low consistent with uninterrupted strength in the labor market. Initial claims came in at 244,000 which is near consensus and which pulls the 4-week average lower for a 3rd week in row, down a sizable 4,250 to 243,000. The sample week of April 15 was also the sample week of the April employment report and comparisons with the sample week of the March report are favorable: a 17,000 decline at the headline level and a 3,500 decline for the 4-week average.
In data that lag by a week, continuing claims are also favorable, falling a sizable 49,000 to 1.979 million for a 17-year low. This 4-week average is down 2,000 to 2.024 million which is also a 17-year low. The unemployment rate for insured workers (excludes job leavers and re-entrants) is down 1 tenth to a very low 1.4 percent.
Employers are having a difficult time filling openings and, judging by claims data, are holding on tightly to their existing employees. This report should raise expectations for bounce-back job growth in the April employment report. There are no special factors though claims from Puerto Rico and once again Louisiana had to be estimated.
Initial jobless claims have beaten Econoday expectations very sharply in the 2 prior weeks. At 234,000 in the April 8 week, claims were expected to have returned to March's 245,000 trend. And forecasters once again see claims moving higher, to a consensus 242,000 in the April 15 week. Unemployment claims have been very low and favorable consistent with strong demand for labor.