Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 1K, Better Than Forecast

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Includes: DDM, DIA, DOG, DXD, EEH, EPS, EQL, FEX, FWDD, HUSV, IVV, IWL, IWM, JHML, JKD, OTPIX, PPLC, PPSC, PSQ, QID-OLD, QLD, QQEW, QQQ, QQQE, QQXT, RSP, RWL-OLD, RWM, RYARX, RYRSX, SBUS, SCAP, SCHX, SDOW, SDS, SFLA, SH, SMLL, SPDN, SPLX, SPSM, SPUU, SPXE, SPXL, SPXN, SPXS, SPXT, SPXU-OLD, SPXV, SPY, SQQQ, SRTY, SSO, SYE, TNA, TQQQ, TWM, TZA, UDOW, UDPIX, UPRO, URTY, USSD, USWD, UWM, VFINX, VOO, VTWO, VV
by: Doug Short

by Jill Mislinski

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending January 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 230,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 2,000 from 233,000 to 231,000. The 4-week moving average was 234,500, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 500 from 240,000 to 239,500.

The claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal. [See full report]

Today's seasonally adjusted 230K new claims, down 1K from last week's revised figure, was better than the Investing.com forecast of 238K.

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.

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.

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.

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.

For an analysis of unemployment claims as a percent of the labor force, see regularly updated piece The Civilian Labor Force, Unemployment Claims and the Business Cycle. Here is a snapshot from that analysis.