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posted on 12 May 2016

07 May 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Worsened. 62 Consecutive Weeks Of Initial Claims Below 300,000

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg) were 263,000 to 275,000 (consensus 267,000), and the Department of Labor reported 294,000 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 258,000 (reported last week as 258,000) to 268,250. 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 2.0 % lower (worse than the 7.1 % 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 May 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 294,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 274,000. This is the highest level for initial claims since February 28, 2015 when it was 310,000. The 4-week moving average was 268,250, an increase of 10,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 258,000. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 62 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 30, unchanged from the previous week's revised rate. The previous week's rate was revised up by 0.1 from 1.5 to 1.6 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 30 was 2,161,000, an increase of 37,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the highest level for insured unemployment since April 2, 2016 when it was 2,176,000. The previous week's level was revised up 3,000 from 2,121,000 to 2,124,000. The 4- week moving average was 2,137,250, a decrease of 3,750 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 750 from 2,140,250 to 2,141,000.

Steven Hansen

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