After edging higher in the prior two weeks, initial jobless claims fell a sizable 18,000 in the July 7 week to a 214,000 level that is just below Econoday's consensus range. The 4-week average is down 1,750 to 223,000 and is right in line with the month-ago comparison.
Continuing claims, which lag by a week, edged 3,000 lower to 1.739 million with this 4-week average up 10,000 to 1.729 million. The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at only 1.2 percent.
These are very healthy results that offer the first hint of strength for the July employment report. Note that all the readings in this report are at or near historic lows and are consistent with strong demand for labor.