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posted on 22 January 2015

17 January 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Worsens

Blue Line 4 Week Average

The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 289,000 to 305,000 (consensus 300,000) vs the 307,000 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 300,000 (reported last week as 298,000) to 306,500. The rolling averages had been equal or under 300,000 for the previous 18 weeks.

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 7.8% lower (worse than the 11.1% 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 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 307,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 316,000 to 317,000. The 4-week moving average was 306,500, an increase of 6,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,000 from 298,000 to 300,000. 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 10, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 10 was 2,443,000, an increase of 15,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 4,000 from 2,424,000 to 2,428,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,427,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,500 from 2,414,500 to 2,418,000.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line). 2015 (violet line)

Steven Hansen

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