New Jobless Claims: Slightly Better Than Expected

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Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending October 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 260,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 259,000. The 4-week moving average was 259,250, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 263,250. This is the lowest level for this average since December 15, 1973 when it was 256,750.

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

Today's seasonally adjusted 260K new claims was slightly better than the Investing.com forecast of 263K.

The four-week moving average is at 259,250, down from last week's 263,250, is at a new low last seen in 1973.

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.

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About Jill Mislinski

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