Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly intial unemployment claims at 299,000 to 315,000 (consensus 310,000) vs the 326,000 reported. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 323,500 (reported last week as 323,250) to 322,500.
It should be pointed out that Econintersect watches the year-over-year change on the 4 week moving average. There is always some seasonality which migrates into the seasonally adjusted data, and year-over-year comparisons helps remove some seasonality. The four week rolling average of initial claims are 5.3% lower (marginally better 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 May 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 326,000, an increase of 28,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 297,000 to 298,000. The 4-week moving average was 322,500, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 323,250 to 323,500. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0 percent for the week ending May 10, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 10 was 2,653,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 1, 2007 when it was 2,639,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 from 2,667,000 to 2,666,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,689,000, a decrease of 5,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 15, 2007 when it was 2,670,500. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 from 2,694,500 to 2,694,250.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)