The -15k initial claims plunge to 204k
The -15k initial claims plunge to 204k in the first week of September, after a 3k rise to 219k (was 217k) in the final week of August, leaves a sharp tightening for claims into the last month of Q3. Claims are still well above the 49-year low of 193k in the April BLS survey week. Claims are entering September well below prior averages of 216k in August and the 212k cycle-low average in July that was previously in September of 2018. Analysts saw previous averages of 222k in June and 217k in May. Next week's BLS survey week reading may undershoot the tight 211k August figure, versus prior survey week readings of 216k in July, 217k in June and 212k in May. Analysts still expect a September nonfarm payroll rise of 155k that nearly matches the 158k average year-to-date increase, but exceeds the 130k Auguste gain. Analysts expect a 157k average increase in 2019, after prior averages of 223k in 2018, 179k in 2017, 193k in 2016, 227k in 2015, and a cycle-high 251k in 2014. Payrolls face ongoing upside risk from tight claims, lofty consumer confidence levels, and a firm 195k rise for August ADP. Analysts face balanced risk from divergent producer sentiment swings that have stabilized over the last two months, on average.