Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 10K, Lowest Since 1969

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Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending February 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 210,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 202,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 2,000 from 222,000 to 220,000. The 4-week moving average was 220,500, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 27, 1969 when it was 219,750. The previous week's average was revised down by 500 from 226,000 to 225,500.

Claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal. [See full report]

Today's seasonally adjusted 210K new claims, down 10K from last week's revised figure, was above the Investing.com forecast of 226K.

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).

unemployment insurance

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, near the end of the Great Recession.

Yearly Overlay

For an analysis of unemployment claims as a percent of the labor force, see regularly updated piece The Civilian Labor Force, Unemployment Claims and the Business Cycle Here is a snapshot from that analysis.

Initial Claims to the CLF


Here's our complete list of monthly employment updates:

ADP Employment Report
Employment Situation Summary
Labor Market Conditions Index
Long-Term Trends by Age Group
Aging Work Force
Ratio of Part-Time and Full-Time Employment
Multiple Jobholders
Workforce Recovery Since the Recession
Civilian Labor Force, Unemployment Claims, and the Business Cycle

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About Jill Mislinski

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