Further progress on the jobs front this morning continues to augur well for lenders. Claims dropped 6k week over week to 439k from 445k (last week was revised up 3k), while the 4-week rolling average declined by 6.5k to 447k from 454k. This week's data came in 4k below consensus. The following chart shows the rolling average trend line. Below that we show the raw data.
It's worth mentioning that we're now within 6k of the lows set at the beginning of January on both a rolling and printed basis. We think breaking to new lows will be a positive development. With respect to where claims are tracking relative to our three standard deviation channel, they are back to knocking on the door of the high side of the channel. We continue to expect claims to move lower in coming months as we see the tailwind associated with Census hiring. This will create a positive environment for secured and unsecured lenders alike. We continue to favor credit card names heading into this environment.
The following chart shows census hiring from the 2000 and 1990 census by month, which should be a reasonable proxy for hiring this Spring.
Joshua Steiner, CFA