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posted on 12 February 2015

07 February 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves Despite Jump In Weekly Claims

Blue Line 4 Week Average

The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 275,000 to 300,000 (consensus 288,000) vs the 304,000 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 293,000 (reported last week as 292,750) to 289,750. The rolling averages have been equal to or under 300,000 for the 21 of the previous 22 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 14.0% lower (better than the revised 12.1% 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 February 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 304,000, an increase of 25,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 278,000 to 279,000. The 4-week moving average was 289,750, a decrease of 3,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 292,750 to 293,000. 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 31, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 31 was 2,354,000, a decrease of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 5,000 from 2,400,000 to 2,405,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,404,000, a decrease of 18,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 2,421,250 to 2,422,500.

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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