Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly intial unemployment claims at 295,000 to 335,000 (consensus 323,000) vs the 311,000 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 327,250 (reported last week as 327,000) to 317,750.
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 7.5% lower (much better than the 4.1% 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 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 311,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 321,000. The 4-week moving average was 317,750, a decrease of 9,500 from the previous week's revised average of 327,250.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending March 15, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 15 was 2,823,000, a decrease of 53,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,876,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,862,500, a decrease of 31,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,894,000.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)