Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weekly Unemployment Claims

by Bill McBride on 7/23/2009 08:30:00 AM

NOTE: The seasonally adjusted weekly claims numbers is being impacted by the layoffs in the automobile industry. Usually auto 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 appears much smaller this week, and is expected to be over soon.

The DOL reports on weekly unemployment insurance claims:

In the week ending July 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 554,000, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 524,000. The 4-week moving average was 566,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's revised average of 585,000.
...
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 11 was 6,225,000, a decrease of 88,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 6,313,000.
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 19,000, and is now 93,250 below the peak of 15 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 550K), 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 declined a little and then stayed elevated for some time. I expect weekly claims to stay elevated following the current recession too.