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posted on 22 October 2015

17 October 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Remains At Lowest Level Since December 1973

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market (from Bloomberg) was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 245 K to 270 K (consensus 265,000) vs the 259,000 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 265,250 (reported last week as 265,000) to 263,250. The rolling averages generally have been equal to or under 300,000 since August 2014.

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 7.8 % lower (unchanged from the 7.8 % for last week) than they were in this same week in 2014.

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 are at 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 October 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 259,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 255,000 to 256,000. The 4-week moving average was 263,250, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 15, 1973 when it was 256,750. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 265,000 to 265,250. 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 October 10, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 10 was 2,170,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 6,000 from 2,158,000 to 2,164,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,184,500, a decrease of 18,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since November 18, 2000 when it was 2,169,000. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,750 from 2,201,250 to 2,203,000.

Steven Hansen



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