In a very positive sign for next week's August employment report, this morning's jobless claims data are little changed at historic lows. Initial claims edged only 2,000 higher to 234,000 in the August 19 week, holding onto the bulk of the prior week's sizable 12,000 decline. The 4-week average is down for the 4th time in 5 weeks, 2,750 lower to 237,750 which is the lowest reading since May. Annual auto retooling, which results in a temporary rise for claims, proved to be a non-factor this summer which speaks to the accuracy of the Labor Department's seasonal adjustments.
Continuing claims are likewise positive, holding unchanged at 1.954 million in lagging data for the August 12 week, a week that importantly was the sample period for the August employment report. This 4-week average is down slightly to 1.958 million for the lowest reading since early July. The unemployment rate for insured workers is only 1.4 percent.
Layoff activity through the 3rd week of August, including the employment report's sample period in the 2nd week, was very subdued which is consistent with extending demand for labor. There are no special factors and no states were estimated in today's report.
Seasonal adjustments have been on the mark and the summer's auto retooling season has yet to be a factor in weekly jobless claims which have held rock steady at historic low levels. Forecasters see initial claims coming in at 237,000 in the August 19 week vs 232,000 in the August 12 week.