Initial jobless claims did come down in the December 1 week but not as much as expected, 4,000 lower to 231,000 vs Econoday's consensus for 225,000. The 4-week average continues to climb, up for the fourth week in a row to a 228,000 level that is a substantial 15,000 higher than the month-ago comparison. This is not a favorable indication for November's labor conditions, at least compared to October.
Yet claims, which are coming off historic lows back in October, are still very low and still point to very strong demand for labor. Continuing claims, in lagging data for the November 24 week, fell a very favorable 74,000 to 1.631 million to nearly reverse the large net increase over the prior three weeks. This 4-week average is unchanged at 1.667 million while the unemployment rate for insured workers moved back down 1 tenth to a very low 1.1 percent.
There are no special factors in today's report, one that generally echoes the shift higher seen in this morning's Challenger layoff report.