Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly intial unemployment claims at 330,000 to 335,000 vs the 331,000 reported. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average marginally declined, moving from 333,000 (reported last week) to 334,000.
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 4.8% lower (better than the 5.6% last week) than they were in this same week in 2013 (see chart below).
2014 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 February 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 331,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 351,000. The 4-week moving average was 334,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week's revised average of 333,750.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending January 25, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 25 was 2,964,000, an increase of 15,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,949,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,985,500, an increase of 25,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,959,750.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)