The labor market is the key strength of the U.S. economy, highlighted once again by jobless claims data. Initial claims edged 2,000 lower in the August 11 week to a 212,000 level that is just below Econoday's consensus range. The 4-week average edged higher but at 215,500 is already trending 5,000 to 10,000 lower than the month-ago comparison in what offers an early indication of strength for the August employment report.
Continuing claims, where data lag by a week, are down very sharply, 39,000 lower in the August 4 week to 1.721 million with this 4-week average down 8,000 to 1.739 million. The unemployment rate for insured workers, like all readings in this report, is very low, steady at 1.2 percent. There are no special factors in this report.