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posted on 05 February 2015

31 January 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Improves

Blue Line 4 Week Average

The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 280,000 to 310,000 (consensus 290,000) vs the 278,000 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 299,250 (reported last week as 298,500) to 292,750. The rolling averages have been equal to or under 300,000 for the 19 of the previous 20 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 12.2% lower (better than the revised 10.1% for last week) than they were in this same week in 2014 (see chart below).

Claim levels remain 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 31, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 278,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 265,000 to 267,000. The 4-week moving average was 292,750, a decrease of 6,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 298,500 to 299,250. 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 24, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 24 was 2,400,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 9,000 from 2,385,000 to 2,394,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,421,250, a decrease of 21,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 4,000 from 2,438,500 to 2,442,500.

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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