Thursday, March 17, 2011

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


United States Department of Labor: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report

*** Updated March 17, 2011 for the week ended March 12, 2011 Claims ***

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

Official Statement by the US Department of Labor In the week ending March 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 385,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 401,000. The 4-week moving average was 386,250, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's revised average of 393,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0 percent for the week ending March 5, 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 5 was 3,706,000, a decrease of 80,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,786,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,779,000, a decrease of 58,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,837,000.

Trend The short-term trend is below 400,000, and the the intermediate and long term trends are downwards. The current weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) of 385,000 is the 3rd week in the last 4 weeks below 400,000 and:
=> Below the descending 4-week moving average of 386,250.
=> Below the descending 13-week moving average of 406,462, which as decreased 21 of the past 22 weeks.
=> Below the descending 26-week moving average of 425,231, which as decreased 17 of the past 18 weeks.
=> Below the descending 52-week moving average of 444,346, 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 385,000 for the week ended March 12, 2011 are down -266,000 and -41% from the Great Recession cyclical high of 651,000 for the week ended March 28, 2009. The weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) are up +14,000 and +4% 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 30 weeks, from the week ended August 21, 2010 through the latest week reported, March 12, 2011. The week ended August 21, 2010 was an intermediate term peak of 488,000. The trend had been downwards since this recent peak. The 4-week moving average, currently 386,250 (preliminary), is considered a better, smoother measure of trend. The 4-week moving average continues an overall downtrend and has decreased 13 of the past 19 weeks and 21 of the past 29 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 31 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 5th time below 400,000 since the end of the Great Recession. The current claims (preliminary)of 385,000 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 386,250 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 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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