Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 41K, Lowest in Almost 45 Years

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending January 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 220,000, a decrease of 41,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 261,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since February 24, 1973 when it was 218,000. The 4-week moving average was 244,500, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 250,750.

Claims taking procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands. The claims taking process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal. [See full report]

Today's seasonally adjusted 220K new claims, down 41K from last week, was much better than the Investing.com forecast of 250K and its lowest in almost 45 years.

Here is a close look at the data over the decade (with a callout for the past year), which gives a clearer sense of the overall trend in relation to the last recession.

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).