It's the Economy

Weekly Unemployment Claims Ho-Ho Low

Weekly Unemployment Claims STILL Historically Low

We have been on a ten year decline in weekly unemployment claims since the peak week of January 2009. What used to be headline news at the bottom of the 8:00 hour every Thursday has been summarily forgotten and dismissed as unimportant. This past year we set a record for the number of weeks that the non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims data under 200,000 claims. Former President Obama was promoting a seasonally adjusted first-time claims streak for under 300,000 claims, which is still on-going. This year we set a record low Insured Unemployment Rate, non-seasonally adjusted, at 0.95% during the week of October 26th.  This means that less than 1% of the “covered insured workforce” was receiving continuing unemployment claims (CC.) The NSA CC dropped to its lowest level since 1973 the week of October 6th the same week when we set the IUR record low rate, when it was originally reported at 1.349 million claims  on October 13th. What was recorded, non-seasonally adjusted, what was reported, seasonally adjusted , and what was ignored this week?

First Time Claims recorded a drop to 251,773 Claims. Last week the NSA FTU claims data was recorded at 260,508. That number was revised slightly higher to 261,539 claims. This means that last week’s SA FTU remained at 206,000. This week’s seasonal factors mean that the SA FTU rose to 214,000. Down is Up. Remember that anything under 300,000 has been considered “strong” since former President Obama started touting his “under 300,000 SA FTU claims streak.”

First time Claims should have been reported much lower. The SA FTU value could have been reported under 200,000. It could have been reported under 205,000 claims. It should have been reported under 210,000.

Continuing Claims were recorded at 1.705 million claims. The value of 1,705,113 is a slight rise from last weeks lower revised number of 1,649,837 claims. Continuing claims edge higher, in fits and starts, between the first week of October and the first week of January, generally speaking. It needs to be observed that this week’s continuing claims data is 257,000 claims lower than it was this week last year.

Continuing Claims should have been reported lower. The continuing claims data could have been reported at 1.670 million, or 1.642 million, or 1.627 million claims. Remember that 2 million claims is a good level.

This the Insured Unemployment Rate remains low at 1.20%. This data receives no attention in the media. This is the percentage of the “covered insured” who are receiving continuing claims benefits. The lowest we ever were was 1.4% during October of 2000. Ignored. We dropped to 1.3% for the first time ever October 3, 2015. We dropped to 1.2% October 1, 2016. We dropped to 1.1% by October 7, 2017. We dropped to 0.95% October 6, 2018. All ignored. If we spike by 0.6% between the first week of October and the first week of January then we will be under 1.6% this upcoming January. This will be a “record low high.” We are in uncharted territory, literally and figuratively.

This week’s continuing claims data gives us an indication of which way the U-3 Unemployment data for the December Jobs Report may be heading. The pundits confuse the JOLTS Jobs opening data with the Current Population Survey U-3 Unemployed worker data and ignore the weekly Unemployment Continuing Claims data. Comparing job openings with the number of unemployed is similar to comparing an apple to a red Anjou pear. Both are red. Both grow on trees. Both are fruits. You might as well compare both of those numbers to the continuing claims data. The continuing claims data is a pomegranate. Another red fruit that grows on trees. While the continuing claims data is up 260,000 claims from where it was mid-November, this is the time of year where people take on seasonal jobs, so unemployment could fall and multiple job holders could rise.

This data was good. This data was unloved. Ignore the first-time claims, the continuing claims, and the insured unemployment claims data at your own peril. If you listen to the media you would think that this is the beginning of the end of the expansion. The data does not indicate this. The continuing claims data points to a strong start for 2019.

It’s the economy.

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