Jill Mislinski: Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:
In the week ending April 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 257,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 247,000 to 248,000. The 4-week moving average was 256,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 8, 1973 when it was 252,250. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 260,500 to 260,750.
There were no special factors impacting this week’s initial claims. This marks 60 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973. [See full report]
Today’s seasonally adjusted 257K new claims was up 9K from last week’s revised 248K and below the Investing.com forecast of 260K.
The four-week moving average is at 256,000, 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.
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.
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).
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.
Here is a calendar-year overlay since 2009 using the 4-week moving average.