New filings for unemployment benefits delivered another bullish update this morning. Claims fell more than expected, dropping 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 278,000 – close to the 14-year low of 266,000 for the week through October 11. This leading indicator has been sliding for much of the year so far and today’s release confirms that the downside momentum is intact. As such, the data du jour strengthens confidence for expecting an encouraging number in tomorrow’s October payrolls report from the Labor Department.
The trend also looks upbeat in terms of the year-over-year change. Claims fell a hefty 18.5% last week vs. the year-earlier level. The latest decrease marks the fifth straight week of double-digit declines on an annual basis.
After seeing yesterday’s solid advance in private payrolls for October via ADP’s estimate, I considered the possibility that the growth rate in the job market was finally accelerating, after several false starts in recent years. Today’s claims data boosts the possibility that the labor market is at a bullish tipping point — a melt-up scenario, if you will. We’ll know more after tomorrow’s release. At the very least, the latest numbers tell us that moderate economic growth for the US will roll on for the near term. But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to expect something a bit better? Stay tuned.