New Jobless Claims: Up 11K, Worse Than Forecast

jobsJill Mislinski:  Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending March 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 276,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 265,000. The 4-week moving average was 263,250, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 259,750.

There were no special factors impacting this week’s initial claims. This marks 56 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973. [See full report]

Today’s seasonally adjusted 276K new claims was up 11K from last week’s 265K and below theInvesting.com forecast of 265K.

The four-week moving average is at 263,250, down from last week’s number.

Here is a close look at the data over the past few years (with a callout for the past year), which gives a clearer sense of the overall trend in relation to the last recession and the volatility in recent months.

Unemployment Claims since 2007

As we can see, there’s a good bit of volatility in this indicator, which is why the 4-week moving average (the highlighted number) is a more useful number than the weekly data. Here is the complete data series.

Unemployment Claims

The headline Unemployment Insurance data is seasonally adjusted. What does the non-seasonally adjusted data look like? See the chart below, which clearly shows extreme volatility of the non-adjusted data (the red dots). The 4-week MA gives an indication of the recurring pattern of seasonal change (note, for example, those regular January spikes).

Nonseasonally Adjusted Claims

Because of the extreme volatility of the non-adjusted weekly data, we can add a 52-week moving average to give a better sense of the secular trends. The chart below also has a linear regression through the data. We can see that this metric continues to fall below the long-term trend stretching back to 1968.

Nonseasonally Adjusted 52-week MA

Annual Comparisons

Here is a calendar-year overlay since 2009 using the 4-week moving average. The purpose is to compare the annual slopes since the peak in the spring of 2009.

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