The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 292,000 to 320,000 (consensus 309,000) vs the 289,000 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 306,000 (reported last week as 304,750) to 302,250. The rolling averages have been equal to or under 300,000 for most of the last 6 months, but this week again 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 8.8% lower (worse than the 9.5% 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 March 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 289,000, a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 5,000 from 320,000 to 325,000. The 4-week moving average was 302,250, a decrease of 3,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 304,750 to 306,000. 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 February 28, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 28 was 2,418,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 2,000 from 2,421,000 to 2,423,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,416,750, an increase of 12,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 2,403,500 to 2,404,000.
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