Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weekly Unemployment Claims Decline Sharply

by Bill McBride on 7/16/2009 08:29:00 AM

NOTE: The seasonally adjusted weekly claims numbers are being impacted by the layoffs in the automobile industry and other manufacturing sectors. Usually companies cut back production in the summer, and the numbers are adjusted for that pattern - but this year the companies cut back much earlier. This distortion is expected to last for another week or two.

The DOL reports on weekly unemployment insurance claims:

In the week ending July 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 522,000, a decrease of 47,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 569,000. The 4-week moving average was 584,500, a decrease of 22,500 from the previous week's revised average of 607,000.
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The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 4 was 6,273,000, a decrease of 642,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 6,915,000.
Weekly Unemployment Claims Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the 4-week moving average of weekly claims since 1971.

The four-week average of weekly unemployment claims decreased this week by 22,500, and is now 74,250 below the peak of 14 weeks ago. It appears that initial weekly claims have peaked for this cycle.

The level of initial claims has fallen quickly - but is still very high (over 500K), indicating significant weakness in the job market.

Following the earlier recessions (like '81), weekly claims fell quickly, but in the two most recent recessions, weekly claims fell some and then stayed elevated for some time. I expect the current recession will be more like the '90 and '01 recessions, than the '81 recession.