February 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves

Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 715 K to 838 K (consensus 790 K), and the Department of Labor reported 745,000 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 807,500 (reported last week as 807,750) to 790,750

Analyst Opinion of Initial Unemployment Claims

Job's loss since the start of the pandemic is now 80,660,000. Many in this number are now employed or have dropped out of the workforce as all programs continuing claims number is 18,026,537, down from last week's 19,045,300

It should be pointed out that Econintersect watches the year-over-year change in the 4-week moving average. There is always some seasonality that migrates into the seasonally adjusted data, and year-over-year comparisons help remove some seasonality. The four-week rolling average of initial claims is 270 % higher than one year ago (versus the 285 % higher last week).

Claim levels before the coronavirus pandemic were 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 February 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 745,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 6,000 from 730,000 to 736,000. The 4-week moving average was 790,750, a decrease of 16,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 from 807,750 to 807,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0 percent for the week ending February 20, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 20 was 4,295,000, a decrease of 124,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 4,419,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,448,000, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 4,547,000.

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