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posted on 21 May 2015

16 May 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Averages Continues to Improve. Lowest Level for Initial Claims Since April 2000.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 265,000 to 280,000 (consensus 270,000) vs the 274,000 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 271,750 (reported last week as 271,750) to 266,250. The rolling averages have been equal to or under 300,000 for most of the last 7 months.

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 16.9% lower (better than the 15.5% for last week) than they were in this same week in 2014 (see chart below).

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line). 2015 (violet line)

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 May 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 274,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 264,000. The 4-week moving average was 266,250, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 271,750. This is the lowest level for this average since April 15, 2000 when it was 266,250. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6 percent for the week ending May 9, 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 May 9 was 2,211,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since November 11, 2000 when it was 2,161,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 6,000 from 2,229,000 to 2,223,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,229,750, a decrease of 29,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since November 25, 2000 when it was 2,211,250. The previous week's average was revised down by 1,500 from 2,260,250 to 2,258,750.

Steven Hansen

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