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posted on 21 April 2016

16 April 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves. The Longest Streak Of Claims Under 300,000 Since 1973.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations (from Bloomberg) were 261,000 to 280,000 (consensus 265,000), and the Department of Labor reported 247,000 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 265,000 (reported last week as 265,000) to 260,500. 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 7.5 % lower (improvement from the 5.5 % 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 April 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 247,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 253,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since November 24, 1973 when it was 233,000. The 4-week moving average was 260,500, a decrease of 4,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 265,000. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 59 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 April 9, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 9 was 2,137,000, a decrease of 39,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since November 4, 2000 when it was 2,110,000. The previous week's level was revised up 5,000 from 2,171,000 to 2,176,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,168,500, a decrease of 10,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since November 11, 2000 when it was 2,119,750. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 2,178,000 to 2,179,250.

Steven Hansen



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