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Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 10K, Lowest Since 1969

Doug Short profile picture
Doug Short

By Jill Mislinski

In the week ending February 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 210,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 202,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 2,000 from 222,000 to 220,000. The 4-week moving average was 220,500, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 27, 1969 when it was 219,750. The previous week's average was revised down by 500 from 226,000 to 225,500.

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

Today's seasonally adjusted 210K new claims, down 10K from last week's revised figure, was above the Investing.com forecast of 226K.

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 four-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 four-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

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Doug Short profile picture
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Comments (9)

For economy, it doesn't really matter who we call unemployed, or part of the labor force, pensioner, etc. What matters is how many people work and what they are paid. The US has 323.1 million people. 125.44 million (Jan 2018) have full-time employment. 39 percent of Americans work full time. If we exclude 73.8 million children under eighteen, 50 percent of adult Americans work full time. The labor force participation rate is 62.7%. Pretty 4% number is, well, pretty.
That makes sense, it shows 154 million employed is somewhat in sync with 125 full time. In short time frame of It seems that employment is going up while full-time employment is doing down. The longer time frame is much more positive. I picked up 125 from statista http://bit.ly/2FMovLu
Alan Longbon profile picture
This one shows the same.


There is a lot of underemployment too that is not recognized. Things such as nuclear physicists flipping burgers, aeronautical engineers cleaning toilets instead of doing what their qualifications allow because the jobs are not there to do, so they do what they can to get by.
Alan Longbon profile picture
The number is only low because it is so hard to claim now.
SivBum profile picture

Not so for first time claims.
Great presentation of data, as usual. Why don't you show this data with a chart that shows unemployment claims adjusted for population? That would be an eye opener.
SivBum profile picture
Yep, we sort of know about the data adjusted for Labor Force, but not expressed as precise numbers. Thanks to the authors.

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