Thursday, March 3, 2011

USA Weekly Unemployment Claims Lowest Since May 2008! (Charts) *4-Week Average at Post-Great Recession Low!*

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United States Department of Labor: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report


*** Updated March 3, 2011 for the week ended February 26, 2011 Claims ***


USA Weekly Unemployment Claims Lowest Since May 31, 2008!
4-Week Moving Average at Post-Great Recession Low!

Official Statement by the US Department of Labor In the week ending Feb. 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 368,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 388,000. The 4-week moving average was 388,500, a decrease of 12,750 from the previous week's revised average of 401,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0 percent for the week ending Feb. 19, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's revised rate of 3.1 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Feb.19 was 3,774,000, a decrease of 59,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,833,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,863,750, a decrease of 40,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,904,250.

Trend The short-term trend is downwards, as are the intermediate and long term trends. The current weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) of 368,000 is a Post-Great Recession cyclical low and the lowest since the week ended May 31, 2008. The current claims (preliminary) is below the descending 4-week moving average of 388,500 and also below the 13-week, 26-week, and 52-week moving averages of 410,846, 429,885, and 446,577, respectively. The descending 13-week moving average has decreased for 19 of the past 20 weeks. The descending 26-week moving averages has decreased 15 of the past 16 weeks. The descending 52-week moving average continues a downward trend and 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 368,000 for the week ended February 26, 2011 are down -283,000 and -43% from the Great Recession cyclical high of 651,000 for the week ended March 28, 2009. The weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) are at a Post-Great Recession cyclical low.

4-Week Moving Average (Chart) The chart below shows the 4-week moving average for the last 28 weeks, from the week ended August 21, 2010 through the latest week reported, February 19, 2011. The week ended August 21, 2010 was an intermediate term peak of 488,000. The trend had been downwards since this recent peak of 488,000 for the week ended August 21, 2010. The 4-week moving average, currently 388,500 (preliminary) and a Post-Great Recession low, is considered a better, smoother measure of trend. The 4-week moving average continues an overall downtrend and has decreased 12 of the past 17 weeks and 20 of the past 27 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 29 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 4th time below 400,000 since the end of the Great Recession. Both the current claims (preliminary) and the 4-week moving average (preliminary) are at Post-Great Recession cyclical lows. The short term, intermediate term, and long term trends continue downwards as indicated by the decreasing 4-week moving average and descending 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 a decent 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 generally in the low 400,000s to high 300,000s, indicating a stronger than expected economic expansion and GDP.


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