Initial Jobless Claims Continue Improving Trend, Suggest Further Decline In Unemployment Rate

by: Hale Stewart

Initial jobless claims continue to be in a normal expansionary range, at 323,000. For the first time, the 4-week average also declined below 330,000.

This year has repeated the pattern of the 3 prior years, where in late March or April the decline in claims would stall (shown in red), and then declines would resume in late August or September:

Further, initial claims have a good record of predicting changes in the unemployment rate. For longer periods of time, I prefer adjusting initial claims by population, but this graph of the last 10 years shows the relationship of initial jobless claims (blue, left scale) and the unemployment rate (red, right scale) pretty well:

Here's a close-up since the end of the recession:

Based on initial claims, I expect the unemployment rate to decline to a new post-recession low, if not tomorrow then next month. The same applies to the broader U-6 unemployment rate that includes discouraged workers, since both measures tend to move in tandem.