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posted on 13 October 2016

08 October 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims: Rolling Averages At Lowest Level Since December 8, 1973

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg / Econoday) were 245,000 to 255,000 (consensus 254,000), and the Department of Labor reported 246,000 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 252,750 (reported last week as 253,500) to 249,250. The rolling averages generally have been equal to or under 300,000 since August 2014.

Analyst Opinion of Initial Unemployment Claims

The trend of the 4 week moving average is continuing to marginally trend down. On the other hand, the trend of year-over-year improvement of initial unemployment claims is moderating - and this trend historically indicates a weakening GDP. This marks 84 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.

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 7.4 % lower (improvement from the revised 6.7 % 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 October 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 249,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 254,000. The 4-week moving average was 253,500, a decrease of 2,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 256,000. This is the lowest level for this average since December 8, 1973 when it was 252,250. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 83 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.In the week ending October 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 246,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 3,000 from 249,000 to 246,000. The 4-week moving average was 249,250, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since November 3, 1973 when it was 244,000. The previous week's average was revised down by 750 from 253,500 to 252,750. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 84 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.5 percent for the week ending October 1, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 1 was 2,046,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since June 24, 2000 when it was 2,033,000. The previous week's level was revised up 4,000 from 2,058,000 to 2,062,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,070,000, a decrease of 25,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since July 8, 2000 when it was 2,056,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,000 from 2,094,750 to 2,095,750.

Steven Hansen



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