Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting 360,000 to 365,000 vs the 344,000 reported. The more important 4 week moving average is down from 360,750. (reported last week) to 355,000.
It should be pointed out that Econintersect watches the year-over-year change on the 4 week moving average. There is some seasonality which seems to have migrated into the seasonally adjusted data - specifically there is a decline in unemployment in the last third of the year (see bottom graph below). The initial claims are 3.2% lower (degrading from 2.1% last week) than they were in this week in 2012. Claims remain elevated from the trend lines seen for most of 2012.
From the Department of Labor:
In the week ending February 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 344,000, a decrease of 22,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 366,000. The 4-week moving average was 355,000, a decrease of 6,750 from the previous week's revised average of 361,750.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent for the week ending February 16, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's revised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 16 was 3,074,000, a decrease of 91,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,165,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,155,000, a decrease of 35,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,190,500.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line)