Initial jobless claims dropped notably last week (from 285 to 269k) but the overall trend (away from the noise) appears in tact. The smoother4-week average remains near 12-month highs and as Goldman notes weakness is widespread - "there is only limited evidence that the rise in claims is due to distress in the energy sector." Continuing claims dropped modestly to 2.239mm but, as Goldman adds, "the persistence of the recent move suggests more might be going on, and we are treating the increase as more than just noise."
And finally, here is Goldman explaining why it is time to be concerned...
Initial and continuing claims for unemployment insurance benefits have moved steadily higher since late last year. After nearing their respective post-crisis lows of 256k and 2,146k this past October, initial and continuing claims are now higher by 29k and 112k, respectively. Both series can be volatile, and one should be cautious about reading too much into the week-to-week changes. But the persistence of the recent move suggests more might be going on, and we are treating the increase as more than just noise.
And moreover, Goldman warns that they find only limited evidence that the recent increase in claims directly relates to distress in the energy sector.
And looking forward, every 1k increase in claims (relative to the breakeven rate) implies a slowdown in monthly payroll growth of just over 4k. Therefore, a further rise in claims to 300-315k, if sustained, could imply payroll growth closer to a trend-like rate—assuming the benefits take-up rate and other aspects of labor market flows remain unchanged.