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posted on 02 April 2015

28 March 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Averages Improves Significantly - Historical Data Revised

Blue Line 4 Week Average

The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 275,000 to 295,000 (consensus 285,000) vs the 268,000 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 300,250 (reported last week as 297,000) to 285,500. The rolling averages have been equal to or under 300,000 for most of the last 6 months. Note that this week's release reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors. The seasonal adjustment factors used for the UI Weekly Claims data from 2010 forward, along with the resulting seasonally adjusted values for initial claims and continuing claims, have been revised.

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 11.7% lower (worse than the 6.9% 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 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 268,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 6,000 from 282,000 to 288,000. The 4-week moving average was 285,500, a decrease of 14,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,250 from 297,000 to 300,250. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.7 percent for the week ending March 21, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 21 was 2,325,000, a decrease of 88,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 16, 2000 when it was 2,322,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 3,000 from 2,416,000 to 2,413,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,387,750, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 14,500 from 2,422,250 to 2,407,750.

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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