New Jobless Claims: Up 8K, Worse Than Forecast
February 4, 2016
by Jill Mislinski
Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:
In the week ending January 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 285,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 from 278,000 to 277,000. The 4-week moving average was 284,750, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 from 283,000 to 282,750.
There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. [See full report]
Today's seasonally adjusted 285K new claims was up 8K from last week, above the Investing.com forecast of 280K.
The four-week moving average is at 284,750, up from last week's revised number.
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.
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 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.
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.
For an analysis of unemployment claims as a percent of the labor force, see our recent commentary What Do Weekly Unemployment Claims Tell us About Recession Risk? Here is a snapshot from that analysis.
For a broader view of unemployment, see the latest update in our monthly series Unemployment and the Market Since 1948.