Are Claims Rising Or Falling?

Jobless claims remain elevated on a seasonally adjusted basis though they did fall once again this week marking a 14th consecutive week with lower initial claims. The current streak of weekly declines now doubles what was the previous record streak of 7 weeks ending in November of 2013 and October of 1980. Claims came in at 1.3 million which was below estimates of 1.375 million but still were down 99K from last week. As we have frequently made note of recently, that is a smaller improvement than earlier in the pandemic, but this week’s decline was the largest since the first week of June’s 331K drop.

On a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, claims came in a hair below 1.4 million, down from 1.431 million last week. Compared to seasonally adjusted claims, the NSA print was less impressive at 31.6K but that too was the largest decline since June 12th. Again, the pace of improvement remains lackluster when compared to the first leg lower earlier in the spring. Whereas each week of May saw NSA claims average a decline of 379K since the beginning of June claims have only averaged a 44K decline even with this week’s larger drop.

As for those that remain unemployed, continuing claims fell by 698K to 18.062 million. That is the lowest level of continuing claims since mid-April’s 18.011 million reading. Continuing claims have now fallen for five consecutive weeks; far from the longest streak on record, but that is the longest such streak since another five-week-long streak in April of last year.

While the trends have generally been positive for the past several weeks when factoring in other claims like Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) the picture is not as rosy. In addition to the roughly 1.4 million initial jobless claims filed (on a non-seasonally adjusted basis) this week, there were another 1.04 million PUA claims filed, totaling 2.439 million claims on the week. As shown in the chart below, that is actually up from 2.428 million last week. This week’s increase was actually a third consecutive week with higher overall claims and the highest level since the second half of May.

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