Weekly Unemployment Claims: Up 15K from Last Week, Annual Revisions

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

Note: This week's release reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors. The seasonal adjustment factors used for the UI Weekly Claims data from 2012 forward, along with the resulting seasonally adjusted values for initial claims and continuing claims, have been revised.

In the week ending March 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 258,000, an increase of 15,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 241,000 to 243,000. The 4-week moving average was 240,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,750 from 237,250 to 239,000. [See full report]

Today's seasonally adjusted 258K new claims, up 15K from last week's number, was worse than the Investing.com forecast of 240K. Revisions were made to annual seasonal adjustment factors along with revisions going back to 2012 to the initial and continuing claims seasonal factors.

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 the 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