People Under 40 Have Very Little Wealth

Seasonally adjusted jobless claims fell from 781,000 to 684,000 in the week of March 20th. That was below the low end of the consensus range. Non-seasonally adjusted claims fell 100,000. Before you get excited by these numbers, recognize that Ohio’s non-seasonally adjusted claims fell 46,000 and Illinois’s fell 56,000. This is probably just better-quality data rather than a cyclical improvement.

The claims data has largely been a mess this recession and early recovery because of fraud and software errors. The claims systems are old and people want to get away with getting more benefits than they should. It’s not always straightforward to make sense of the data. PUAs fell by 43,000 to 242,000. It seems unlikely that they will spike back up to where they were in the past few months because a lot of the decline was data improvement/getting rid of fraud.

As you can see from the chart below, unadjusted combined claims fell to 899,000. That’s the first time weekly new combined claims were below 1 million. Continued claims in the week of March 13th fell from 4.134 million to 3.87 million. The number of people on all benefits programs rose from 18.22 million to 18.95 million in the week of March 6th. We might see this drop in the next few weeks judging based on initial claims and the successful vaccine rollout.

It’s tough to predict muddied data. It’s actually easier to predict markets which isn’t how it usually is. Usually, you can know the data in advance and still not have a clue how the market will react to it. Of course, it’s more important to know the trend than weekly anomalies in claims. The trend is clearly towards improvement in the labor market.

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