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posted on 05 March 2015

28 February 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Worsens. Now Above 300,000.

Blue Line 4 Week Average

The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 290,000 to 305,000 (consensus 300,000) vs the 320,000 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 294,500 (reported last week as 294,500) to 304,750. The rolling averages have been equal to or under 300,000 for most of the last 6 months, but this week exceeded this number.

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 9.5% lower (worse than the 13.0% 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 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 320,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 313,000. The 4-week moving average was 304,750, an increase of 10,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 294,500. 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 February 21, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 21 was 2,421,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 3,000 from 2,401,000 to 2,404,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,403,500, an increase of 3,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 2,399,000 to 2,399,750.

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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