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posted on 28 January 2016

23 January 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Marginally Improves.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market (from Bloomberg) was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 281 K to 290 K (consensus 285,000) vs the 278,000 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 285,250 (reported last week as 285,000) to 283,000. 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 3.0 % lower (degradation from the 4.4 % for last week) than they were in this same week in 2015.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line). 2015 (violet line), 2016 (light blue)

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 January 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 278,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 293,000 to 294,000. The 4-week moving average was 283,000, a decrease of 2,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 285,000 to 285,250. 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 January 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 January 16 was 2,268,000, an increase of 49,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 11,000 from 2,208,000 to 2,219,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,246,250, an increase of 15,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,750 from 2,227,750 to 2,230,500.

Steven Hansen

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