Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 3K, Worse Than Forecast

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending October 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 258,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 260,000 to 261,000. The 4-week moving average was 253,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 251,750 to 252,000.

There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 86 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970. [See full report]

Today's seasonally adjusted 258K new claims, down 3K from last week's revised number, was above the Investing.com forecast of 255K.

Here is a close look at the data over the past few years (with a callout for the past year), which gives a clearer sense of the overall trend in relation to the last recession and the volatility in recent months.

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 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).

Nonseasonally Adjusted Claims