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posted on 02 June 2016

28 May 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims: 65 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 267,000 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 278,500 (reported last week as 278,500) to 276,750. 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 0.0 % higher (better than the 1.5 % 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 May 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 267,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 268,000. The 4-week moving average was 276,750, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 278,500. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 65 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 May 21, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 21 was 2,172,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 3,000 from 2,163,000 to 2,160,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,162,500, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 750 from 2,151,250 to 2,150,500.

Steven Hansen



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