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posted on 18 February 2016

13 February 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Improves.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

Bloomberg did not issue expectations this week, and the Department of Labor reported 262,000 new claims. 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 281,250 (reported last week as 281,250) to 273,250. 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 4.0 % lower (improvement from the 2.5 % 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 February 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 262,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 269,000. The 4-week moving average was 273,250, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 281,250. 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 February 6, 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 February 6 was 2,273,000, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 4,000 from 2,239,000 to 2,243,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,262,500, an increase of 13,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,000 from 2,248,000 to 2,249,000.

Steven Hansen



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