Seven states had to be estimated and holiday weeks are always difficult to adjust for, but initial claims in the December 31 week are strikingly low, down 28,000 to 235,000. The drop pulls the 4-week average down 5,750 to a 256,750 level that is still slightly above, not below, the month-ago trend.
Continuing claims are steady but do show a slight increase, up 16,000 in lagging data for the December 24 week to 2.112 million. This 4-week average is up a noticeable 26,000 to 2.067 million which is roughly 10,000 higher than the month-ago trend. Despite the increases in continuing claims, the unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at a very low 1.5 percent.
Today's results are roughly consistent with strength for tomorrow's employment report where however the comparisons of the December 17 week to the November 12 week, which were the weeks that the monthly employment reports were sampled, are not favorable (data previously reported). The holidays often make for volatility in this report though initial claims in the December 24 week, when 10 states had to be estimated, were not significantly revised, down only 2,000 from the initial reading to 263,000.
Though still near record lows, initial claims trended higher in December as did continuing claims. Recent readings, consistent with holiday periods, have been volatile though forecasters see only modest change for initial claims in the December 31 week, down 5,000 to 260,000. Volatility aside, claims data remain at or near historic lows and consistent with a strong labor market.