Weekly Unemployment Claims: Lowest Since March 2020

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending May 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 385,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 from 406,000 to 405,000. The 4-week moving average was 428,000, a decrease of 30,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 from 458,750 to 458,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7 percent for the week ending May 22, 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 May 22 was 3,771,000, an increase of 169,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 40,000 from 3,642,000 to 3,602,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,687,750, an increase of 22,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 10,000 from 3,675,000 to 3,665,000. [See full report]

This morning's seasonally adjusted 385K new claims, down 20K from the previous week's revised figure, was better than the Investing.com forecast of 390K. This is its lowest since March 2020.

Here is a close look at the data over the decade (with a callout for the past year), which gives a clearer sense of the overall trend.

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 the 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).

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