The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 275,000 to 305,000 (consensus 293,000) vs the 291,000 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 302,500 (reported last week as 302,250) to 304,750. 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 7.3% lower (worse than the 8.8% 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 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 291,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 289,000 to 290,000. The 4-week moving average was 304,750, an increase of 2,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 302,250 to 302,500. 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 March 7, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 7 was 2,417,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 10,000 from 2,418,000 to 2,428,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,418,000, a decrease of 1,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,500 from 2,416,750 to 2,419,250.
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