Blue Line 4 Week Average
The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 281,000 to 325,000 (consensus 295,000) vs the 316,000 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 291,250 (reported last week as 290,500) to 298,000. Rolling averages under 300,000 are excellent.
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 11.1% lower (worse than the 16.8% reported last week) than they were in this same week in 2013 (see chart below).
2014 claim levels are near 40 year lows (with 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 January 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 316,000, an increase of 19,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 3,000 from 294,000 to 297,000. The 4-week moving average was 298,000, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 290,500 to 291,250. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending January 3, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's revised rate. The previous week's rate was revised up by 0.1 from 1.8 to 1.9 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 3 was 2,424,000, a decrease of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 23,000 from 2,452,000 to 2,475,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,414,500, an increase of 11,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 6,000 from 2,397,000 to 2,403,000.
Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line). 2015 (violet line)