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posted on 31 December 2015

26 December 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Worsens For Second Week In A Row.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market (from Bloomberg) was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 268 K to 300 K (consensus 270,000) vs the 287,000 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 272,500 (reported last week as 272,500) to 277,000. 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 3.7 % lower (degradation from the 5.6 % 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 December 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 287,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 267,000. The 4-week moving average was 277,000, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 272,500. 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 December 19, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 19 was 2,198,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 2,195,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,220,250, an increase of 9,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 2,211,000.

Steven Hansen



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