Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly intial unemployment claims at 330,000 to 350,000 (consensus 338,000) vs the 323,000 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 338,500 (reported last week as 338,250) to 336,500.
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 3.7% lower (worse than the 4.9% 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 March 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 323,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 349,000. The 4-week moving average was 336,500, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 338,500.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending February 22, unchanged from the prior week's revised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 22 was 2,907,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,915,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,927,750, a decrease of 14,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,942,500.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)