The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg / Econoday) were 255 K to 262 K (consensus 260,000), and the Department of Labor reported 235,000 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 262,750 (reported last week as 263,000) to 256,750. 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 96 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 7.1 % lower (improvement from the 5.1 % for last week) than they were in this same week in 2015.
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 31, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 235,000, a decrease of 28,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 2,000 from 265,000 to 263,000. The 4-week moving average was 256,750, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 500 from 263,000 to 262,500. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 96 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 December 24, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 24 was 2,112,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 6,000 from 2,102,000 to 2,096,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,067,000, an increase of 26,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 1,500 from 2,042,250 to 2,040,750.
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