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posted on 30 November 2017

25 November 2017 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Worsens Marginally

Hurricanes continue to impact claims taking procedures in the Virgin Islands. The market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Bloomberg / Econoday) were 235 K to 245 K (consensus 240,000), and the Department of Labor reported 238,000 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 239,750 (reported last week as 240,000) to 242,250. The rolling averages generally have been equal to or under 300,000 since August 2014.

Analyst Opinion of Initial Unemployment Claims

This marks 140 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 3.0 % lower (worse than the 3.8 % lower for last week) than they were in this same week in 2016.

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 November 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 238,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 239,000 to 240,000. The 4-week moving average was 242,250, an increase of 2,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 239,750 to 240,000. Claims taking procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4 percent for the week ending November 18, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 18 was 1,957,000, an increase of 42,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 11,000 from 1,904,000 to 1,915,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,911,000, an increase of 18,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,750 from 1,890,000 to 1,892,750.

Steven Hansen



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