Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down Yet Another 4K

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending May 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 232,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 236,000. The 4-week moving average was 240,750, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 243,500. [See full report]

Today's seasonally adjusted 232K new claims, down 4K from last week's number, was better than the Investing.com forecast of 240K.

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