New filings for unemployment benefits fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 for the week through November 15, the Labor Department reports. It’s a relatively minor change, but today’s update provides more evidence that the broad slide in jobless claims rolls on. The latest reading remains close to the 14-year low of 266,000 for the week through October 11, 2014. Stepping back and looking at the historical record, claims are near the lowest levels recorded over the last 40 years. Suffice to say, this leading indicator for the labor market—and for the economy generally—continues to flash a bullish signal.
A similar and arguably stronger message emerges in the year-over-year trend for claims, which fell more than 12% last week vs. a year ago. Today’s report marks the seventh-straight annual decline of 10% or more, which adds up to one of the more encouraging stretches for jobless claims in recent history.
Overall, the claims data is telling us in rather strong terms that US payrolls will continue to grow at a moderate pace at the very least. Today’s upbeat news is timely given the growing worries about the global economy and the potential for importing macro trouble into the US. No one can dismiss the potential for turbulence down the road, but today’s claims numbers remind that if the US is heading into a storm it does so with a strong degree of forward momentum in the labor market.