Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 290,000 to 310,000 (consensus 300,000) vs the 302,000 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 299,750 (reported last week as 299,750) to 302,750.
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 7.9% lower (worse than the 9.6% 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 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 302,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 298,000. The 4-week moving average was 302,750, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 299,750. 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 23, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 23 was 2,464,000, a decrease of 64,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since June 16, 2007 when it was 2,453,000. The previous week's level was revised up 1,000 from 2,527,000 to 2,528,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,510,750, a decrease of 13,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since July 7, 2007 when it was 2,509,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 2,524,250 to 2,524,500.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line)