Thursday, March 24, 2011

USA Weekly Unemployment Claims Continue Under 400,000 (Charts) *4-week average at another post-recession low*


United States Department of Labor: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report

*** Updated March 24, 2011 for the week ended March 19, 2011 Claims ***

USA Weekly Unemployment Claims Continue Under 400,000
4-Week Moving Average at Post-Recession Low

Official Statement by the US Department of Labor (Seasonally Adjusted Data) In the week ending March 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 382,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 387,000. The 4-week moving average was 385,250, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 386,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0 percent for the week ending March 12, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate of 3.0 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 12 was 3,721,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,723,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,755,250, a decrease of 28,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,783,250.

Trend The short-term trend continues below 400,000, and the the intermediate and long term trends are downwards. The current weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) of 382,000 is the 4th week in the last 5 weeks below 400,000 and:
=> Below the descending 4-week moving average of 385,250.
=> Below the descending 13-week moving average of 403,692, which has decreased 22 of the past 23 weeks.
=> Below the descending 26-week moving average of 421,692, which as decreased 18 of the past 19 weeks.
=> Below the descending 52-week moving average of 443,173, which has been decreasing for months.
=> The 4-week, 13-week, 26-week and 52-week moving averages are at Post-Great Recession cyclical lows. (The 13-week, 26-week, and 52-week moving averages charts are not shown on this page).

Cycle History Weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) of 382,000 for the week ended March 19, 2011 are down -269,000 and -42% from the Great Recession cyclical high of 651,000 for the week ended March 28, 2009. The weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) are up +11,000 and +3% above the Post-Great Recession cyclical low of 371,000 for the week ended February 26, 2011.

4-Week Moving Average (Chart) The chart below shows the 4-week moving average for the last 31 weeks, from the week ended August 21, 2010 through the latest week reported, March 19, 2011. The week ended August 21, 2010 was an intermediate term peak of 488,000. The trend had been downwards since this intermediate term peak. The 4-week moving average, currently 385,250 (preliminary), is considered a better, smoother measure of trend. The 4-week moving average continues an overall downtrend and has decreased 14 of the past 20 weeks and 22 of the past 30 weeks. Longer-term, the 4-week moving average dropped significantly to reach a first low of 462,500 for the week ended January 9, 2010. After an increase, another low was set of 448,000 for the week ended March 27, 2010. The overall trend continues downwards.

Weekly Unemployment Claims (Chart) The chart below shows the total weekly unemployment claims for the last 32 weeks, from the week ended August 14, 2010 through the latest week reported, February 12, 2011. A general decline in claims had been indicated, with an intermediate peak of 504,000 reached for the week ended August 14, 2010, the beginning of the chart.

Commentary The latest weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) is now the 6th time below 400,000 since the end of the Great Recession. The current claims (preliminary)of 382,000 is just above the Post-Great Recession cyclical low of 371,000 for the week ended 2-26-11. The 4-week moving average (preliminary) of 385,250 is a Post-Great Recession cyclical low. The short term, intermediate term, and long term trends continue downwards as indicated by the descending 4-week, 13-week, 26-week and 52-week moving averages. Claims at  500,000 level is a benchmark, as is the 400,000 level.

Weekly claims first dropped below 500,000 in this Great Recession Cycle for the week ended November 21, 2009 at 477,000. Weekly claims have been below 500,000 since November 21, 2009 with only one exception (504,000 for the week ended August 14, 2010). Claims over 500,000 clearly indicate GDP growth is slowing, if not stalling or contracting, while claims less than 400,000 indicate an economic expansion is underway. Hence the uncertainty over the pace and strength of the USA economic recovery had been heightened as weekly unemployment claims have generally stayed in the mid-400,000s range until recently. Weekly unemployment claims are now continuing below 400,000 indicating a stronger than expected economic expansion and GDP.

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