Thursday, April 28, 2011

USA Weekly Unemployment Claims at 16-Week High (Charts) *4-week average rises above 400K*


United States Department of Labor: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report
*** Updated April 28, 2011 for the week ended April 23, 2011 Claims ***

Official Statement by the U.S. Department of Labor (Seasonally Adjusted Data) In the week ending April 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 429,000, an increase of 25,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 404,000. The 4-week moving average was 408,500, an increase of 9,250 from the previous week's revised average of 399,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.9 percent for the week ending April 16, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's revised rate of 3.0 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 16 was 3,641,000, a decrease of 68,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,709,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,697,750, a decrease of 22,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,720,500.

Trend The short-term trend is definitely upwards while the intermediate and long term trends continue downwards. The current weekly unemployment claims (preliminary) are above 400,000 for the 3rd consecutive week, after being below 400,00 for 4 consecutive weeks.

Cycle History USA weekly unemployment claims reached a Great Recession cyclical peak of 651,000 for the week ended March 28, 2009. A Post-Great Recession cyclical low of 371,000 was set for the week ended February 26, 2011.

USA Weekly Unemployment Insurance Claims: 4-Week Moving Average (Chart) The chart below shows the 4-week moving average from the week ended August 21, 2010 through the latest week reported. The week ended August 21, 2010 was an intermediate term peak of 488,000. The overall trend had been downwards since this intermediate term peak. The 4-week moving average is considered a better, smoother measure of trend. The 4-week moving average continues both intermediate and long term downtrends. The Great Recession cyclical peak was 643,000 for the week ended April 4, 2009 and the Post-Great Recession cyclical low has been 388,500 for the week ended March 12, 2011.

USA Weekly Unemployment Insurance Claims (Chart) The chart below shows the total weekly unemployment claims from the week ended August 14, 2010 through the latest week reported. 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 the 3rd consecutive week above 400,000 after 4 consecutive weeks below. The current claims (preliminary) are now well above the Post-Great Recession cyclical low of 371,000 for the week ended February 26, 2011. The 4-week moving average (preliminary) is above the Post-Great Recession cyclical low of 388,500 for the week ended March 12, 2011. The current 4-week moving average of 408,500 is a 10-week high and the first time above 400,000 since the week ended February 19, 2011. The short term trend is upwards and the intermediate term and long term trends continue downwards. 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 had generally stayed in the mid-400,000s range until recently. Weekly unemployment claims have been below 400,000 for 7 of the past 12 weeks, indicating a continuing economic expansion in 2011.

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