Jobless claims: curiously large drop in unadjusted number

The jobless claims numbers have been telling us the same thing for weeks now, namely that the employment market is still weak but that layoffs are gradually slowing.

But,  the unadjusted number of initial claims dropped 59k last week to 407k.  I suspect this was due to a late Labor Day holiday in the States. Nevertheless, the 407,869 were the lowest figure since 27 Sep 2008, a full year ago. And they were barely more than the year ago data. See the data highlighted in red in the chart below.


Last year, when Labor Day came, the unadjusted figure was 336,733. So we are still averaging 90,000 more in the unadjusted claims data (using the 4-week average). 

But, after Labor Day, the raw unadjusted numbers pick up substantially due to seasonal factors. The test as to how well the labor market is doing will come in this next period.  If the numbers stay in the low to mid 400s through November as I suspect, that is good as the labor market becomes less of an economic headwind.  If they go higher, the jobs numbers will surprise to the downside.

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