Thursday, August 06, 2009

Weekly Unemployment Claims Fall to 550 Thousand

by Calculated Risk on 8/06/2009 08:31:00 AM

The DOL reports weekly unemployment insurance claims fell to 550,000 from 588,000 the week before.

In the week ending Aug. 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 550,000, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 588,000. The 4-week moving average was 555,250, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average of 560,000.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 25 was 6,310,000, an increase of 69,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 6,241,000.
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 4,750 to 555,250, and is now 103,500 below the peak of 17 weeks ago. It appears that initial weekly claims have peaked for this cycle.

The level of initial claims has fallen fairly quickly - but the number is still very high (at 550,000), indicating significant weakness in the job market. The four-week average of initial weekly claims will probably have to fall below 400,000 before the total employment stops falling.

After 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. A jobless recovery, with elevated weekly claims, seems likely this time too.

When the BLS reports tomorrow, I will graph the number of workers unemployed for 27 or more weeks. These workers have exhausted their regular benefits, although most are still on extended benefits.