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posted on 05 November 2015

31 October 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Degrades But Remains Very Low Historically

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market (from Bloomberg) was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 256 K to 270 K (consensus 262,000) vs the 276,000 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 259,250 (reported last week as 259,250) to 262,750. 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 7.1 % lower (degradatopm 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 31, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 276,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 260,000. The 4-week moving average was 262,750, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 259,250. 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 24, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 24 was 2,163,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 2,000 from 2,144,000 to 2,146,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,161,500, a decrease of 11,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since November 11, 2000 when it was 2,119,750. The previous week's average was revised down by 1,750 from 2,174,750 to 2,173,000.

Steven Hansen

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