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posted on 11 August 2016

06 August 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims: Rolling Averages Again Marginally Worsens

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg / Econoday) were 258,000 to 270,000 (consensus 265,000), and the Department of Labor reported 266,000 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 259,750 (reported last week as 260,250) to 262,750. 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 2.6 % lower (degradation from the 4.0 % 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 August 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 266,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 2,000 from 269,000 to 267,000. The 4-week moving average was 262,750, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 500 from 260,250 to 259,750. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 75 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6 percent for the week ending July 30, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 30 was 2,155,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 3,000 from 2,138,000 to 2,141,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,143,000, an increase of 500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 2,141,750 to 2,142,500.

Steven Hansen

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