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posted on 17 March 2016

12 March 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Insignificantly Worsens. Longest Streak Of Claims Under 300,000 Since 1973.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations (from Bloomberg) were 265,000 to 279,000 (consensus 270,000), and the Department of Labor reported 265,000 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 267,250 (reported last week as 267,500) to 268,000. 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 12.2 % lower (improvement from the 11.8 % 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 March 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 265,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 from 259,000 to 258,000. The 4-week moving average was 268,000, an increase of 750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 from 267,500 to 267,250. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 54 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6 percent for the week ending March 5, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 5 was 2,235,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 2,000 from 2,225,000 to 2,227,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,243,250, a decrease of 9,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 2,252,000 to 2,252,500.

Steven Hansen



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