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posted on 28 April 2016

23 April 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves. 60 Consecutive Weeks Of Initial Claims Below 300,000

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg) were 240,000 to 264,000 (consensus 260,000), and the Department of Labor reported 257,000 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 260,750 (reported last week as 260,500) to 256,000. 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 8.9 % lower (improvement from the 7.5 % 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 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 257,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 247,000 to 248,000. The 4-week moving average was 256,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 8, 1973 when it was 252,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 260,500 to 260,750. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 60 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 16, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 16 was 2,130,000, a decrease of 5,000 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 down by 2,000 from 2,137,000 to 2,135,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,157,500, a decrease of 10,500 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 down by 500 from 2,168,500 to 2,168,000.

Steven Hansen



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