Weekly Unemployment Claims: Up 4K, Worse Than Forecast

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending February 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 239,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 234,000 to 235,000. The 4-week moving average was 231,750, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018 when it was 234,000. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 224,750 to 225,000. [See full report]

This morning's seasonally adjusted 239K new claims, up 4K from the previous week's 235K, was worse than the Investing.com forecast of 225K.

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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