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posted on 28 May 2015

23 May 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Averages Worsen But Still Very Good Historically

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 265,000 to 275,000 (consensus 270,000) vs the 282,000 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 266,500 (reported last week as 266,250) to 271,500. 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 13.2% lower (worse than the 16.9% 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 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 282,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 274,000 to 275,000. The 4-week moving average was 271,500, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 266,250 to 266,500. 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 May 16, an increase 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 16 was 2,222,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 2,211,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,221,250, a decrease of 8,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 2,229,750. This is the lowest level for this average since November 25, 2000 when it was 2,211,250.

Steven Hansen

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