Of all the economic indicators, none has been more surprising in its consistent strength than new jobless claims. The current level of 234,000 new unemployment claims from last week is just 1,000 above the recent low of 233,000 from early November, and marks the 98th straight week where claims have been below 300,000.
But even more significant is the four-week moving average, which gives us a broader picture. With this week’s low reading in claims, the four-week moving average fell by 9,750 to 246,750. A drop of 9,750 may not sound like much, but it was the largest one-week decline in the four-week average since March 2015.
Moreover, the last time the four-week moving average was this low was in 1973. At that point, the American population was less than two-thirds the size it is now.