Jobless claims ticked lower for the week of April 14th, to 386,000, down 2,000 from the revised 388,000 result for the prior week. The four-week moving average surged higher by 5,500 to 374,750, still within the territory suggesting improvement in the employment situation.
The recently higher claims results, coupled with the disappointing nonfarm payroll numbers in the March jobs report, suggest a modest softening in the jobs picture. Whether this represents a brief breather in an otherwise strengthening trend or a turning point in the jobs cycle remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the recently disappointing results have caught the attention of the markets.
Should the recent trend continue, consumer confidence could falter, creating additional risk that consumers could again trim spending at the margins and create additional risk to a modestly growing economy.
As seasonal adjustments to the data become a headwind to published economic data in the months ahead, the true strength in the underlying trend should become more clear.