Weekly Unemployment Claims: Up 10K, Worse Than Forecast - Thursday, Jan. 3

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending December 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 231,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 5,000 from 216,000 to 221,000. The 4-week moving average was 218,750, a decrease of 500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 218,000 to 219,250. [See full report]

This morning's seasonally adjusted 231K new claims, up 10K from the previous week's revised 221K, was worse than the Investing.com forecast of 220K.

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 in relation to the last recession.

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).

 

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.

Nonseasonally Adjusted 52-week MA

 

Annual Comparisons

Here is a calendar-year overlay since 2009 using the 4-week moving average. The purpose is to compare the annual slopes since the peak in the spring of 2009, near the end of the Great Recession.

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