Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly intial unemployment claims at 320,000 to 335,000 (consensus 325,000) vs the 320,000 reported. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average improved rather significantly, moving from 330,500 (reported last week as 330,500) to 327,000.
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 4.1% lower (worse than the 4.8% 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 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 320,000, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week's unrevised figure of 315,000. The 4-week moving average was 327,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 330,500.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending March 8, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 8 was 2,889,000, an increase of 41,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,848,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,897,250, a decrease of 16,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,914,000.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)