Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly intial unemployment claims at 350,000 vs the 338,000 reported. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average degraded, moving from 343,500 (reported last week) to 348,000.
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, and year-over-year comparisons removes this seasonality. The four week rolling average of initial claims are 2.6% lower (worse than the 6.7% last week) than they were in this same week in 2012.
The rate of improvement generally is equal to or better than the rate of improvement seen in 2012 (as evidenced on the above chart) - 2013 claim levels are now within the normal range (around 350,000 weekly initial unemployment claims) of levels seen historically during times of economic expansion (see chart below).
From the Department of Labor:
In the week ending December 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 338,000, a decrease of 42,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 380,000. The 4-week moving average was 348,000, an increase of 4,250 from the previous week's revised average of 343,750.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending December 14, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 14 was 2,923,000, an increase of 46,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,877,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,836,750, an increase of 39,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,797,250.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line)