March 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves Again

Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 675 K to 733 K (consensus 718 K), and the Department of Labor reported 770,000 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 762,250 (reported last week as 759,000) to 746,250

Analyst Opinion of Initial Unemployment Claims

Job's loss since the start of the pandemic is now 82,139,000. Many in this number are now employed or have dropped out of the workforce as all programs continuing claims number is 18,216,463, down from last week's 20,118,468

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 220 % higher than one year ago (versus the 251 % 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 March 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 770,000, an increase of 45,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 13,000 from 712,000 to 725,000. The 4-week moving average was 746,250, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,250 from 759,000 to 762,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0 percent for the week ending March 6, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 6 was 4,124,000, a decrease of 18,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 2,000 from 4,144,000 to 4,142,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,255,500, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 500 from 4,355,000 to 4,354,500.

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