ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

Follow us on

Exclusive Sponsorships

Most Popular This Month

Most Popular This Year

New Jobless Claims Worse Than Forecast

September 3, 2015

by Jill Mislinski

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending August 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 282,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 from 271,000 to 270,000. The 4-week moving average was 275,500, an increase of 3,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 from 272,500 to 272,250.

There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. [See full report]

Today's seasonally adjusted 282K new claims was worse than the Investing.com forecast of 275K.

The four-week moving average is at 275,500, up from last week's 272,250.

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

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.

Nonseasonally Adjusted 52-week MA

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.

Yearly Overlay

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.

Initial Claims to the CLF

For a broader view of unemployment, see the latest update in our monthly series Unemployment and the Market Since 1948.