Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down Another 2K

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

In the week ending December 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 236,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 238,000. The 4-week moving average was 241,500, a decrease of 750 from the revious week's unrevised average of 242,250.

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

Today's seasonally adjusted 236K new claims, down another 2K from last week's revised 240K, 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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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