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posted on 08 December 2016

03 December 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Insignificantly Worsens

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg / Econoday) were 250 K to 262 K (consensus 255,000), and the Department of Labor reported 258,000 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 251,500 (reported last week as 251,500) to 252,500. 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 improved this week. This marks 92 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970. The general trend of the 4 week rolling average is a slowing rate of improvement year-over-year which historically suggests a slowing economy.

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 7.5 % lower (insignificant degradation from the 7.6 % 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 December 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 258,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 268,000. The 4-week moving average was 252,500, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 251,500. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 92 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4 percent for the week ending November 26, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 26 was 2,005,000, a decrease of 79,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 3,000 from 2,081,000 to 2,084,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,028,750, a decrease of 9,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 2,037,500 to 2,038,250.

Steven Hansen



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