Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly intial unemployment claims at 330,000 to 345,000 (consensus 335,000) vs the 348,000 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 degraded, moving from 338,250 (reported last week as 338,500) to 338,250.
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 4.9% lower (worse than the 6.5% reported 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 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 348,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 334,000. The 4-week moving average was 338,250, unchanged from the previous week's revised average.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending February 15, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 15 was 2,964,000, an increase of 8,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,956,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,954,750, an increase of 4,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,950,750.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)