Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 295,000 to 303,000 (consensus 300,000) vs the 298,000 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 301,000 (reported last week as 300,750) to 299,750.
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 9.6% lower (better than the 9.0% 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 August 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 298,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 298,000 to 299,000. The 4-week moving average was 299,750, a decrease of 1,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 300,750 to 301,000. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent for the week ending August 16, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 16 was 2,527,000, an increase of 25,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 2,000 from 2,500,000 to 2,502,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,524,250, a decrease of 3,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 2,527,500 to 2,528,000.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)