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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weekly Unemployment Claims

by Calculated Risk on 1/15/2009 08:32:00 AM

There was some concern that the recent decline in seasonally adjusted weekly claims was because of the holidays, and also because of some glitches with state unemployment systems - and that claims would jump well above 600 thousand this week. An increase to only 524 thousand is therefore somewhat good news.

The DOL reports on weekly unemployment insurance claims:

In the week ending Jan. 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 524,000, an increase of 54,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 470,000. The 4-week moving average was 518,500, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised average of 526,500.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Jan. 3 was 4,497,000, a decrease of 115,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 4,612,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,497,750, an increase of 27,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 4,470,250.
Weekly Unemployment Claims Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The first graph shows weekly claims and continued claims since 1971.

The four week moving average is at 518,500; a decline from the recent peak of 558,750
in December.

Continued claims are now at 4.5 million, down slightly from the peak of 4.6 million.

Weekly Unemployment Claims The second graph shows the 4-week average of initial weekly unemployment claims (blue, right scale), and total insured unemployed (red, left scale), both as a percent of covered employment.

This normalizes the data for changes in insured employment.

By these measures, the current recession is already worse than the '01 recession, and about the same as the '90/'91 recession - but far less than the severe recessions of the early '70s and early '80s.