New Jobless Claims: Better Than Expected
October 8, 2015
by Jill Mislinski
Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:
In the week ending October 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 263,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 from 277,000 to 276,000. The 4-week moving average was 267,500, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 from 270,750 to 270,500.
There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. [See full report]
Today's seasonally adjusted 263K new claims was better than the Investing.com forecast of 274K.
The four-week moving average is at 267,500, down from last week's 270,500, which is 1,500 above its interim low set eight weeks ago.
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.