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posted on 12 January 2017

07 January 2017 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improvement Continues

The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg / Econoday) were 245 K to 256 K (consensus 255,000), and the Department of Labor reported 247,000 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 258,250 (reported last week as 256,750) to 256,500. 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 97 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 7.7 % lower (improvement from the 7.1 % 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 January 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 247,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 235,000 to 237,000. The 4-week moving average was 256,500, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,500 from 256,750 to 258,250. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 97 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 31, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 31 was 2,087,000, a decrease of 29,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 4,000 from 2,112,000 to 2,116,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,086,750, an increase of 16,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,250 from 2,067,000 to 2,070,250.

Steven Hansen



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