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posted on 03 March 2016

27 February 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Improves.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expected (from Bloomberg) were 263,000 to 272,000 (consensus 270,000), and the Department of Labor reported 278,000 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 272,000 (reported last week as 272,000) to 270,250. 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 11.5 % lower (improvement from the 7.7 % 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 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 278,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 272,000. The 4-week moving average was 270,250, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 272,000. 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 20, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 20 was 2,257,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 1,000 from 2,253,000 to 2,254,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,256,500, a decrease of 750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 2,257,000 to 2,257,250.

Steven Hansen

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