Reclaiming Common Sense

Remarkable Unemployment Claims Data

The weekly unemployment claims data used to be headline news. The report is now birdcage liner news. The non-seasonally adjusted data for first time unemployment (FTU) claims recorded a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) drop and was reported as rising. The NSA continuing claims (CC) data, which lags the FTU data by one week, both recorded and reported an increase. So what happened and what does it mean?

We recorded the second lowest non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims data for the second week of February. The  NSA FTU for last week was revised from 253,410 to 254,336 claims. This week the NSA FTU dropped by 12,000 to 242,257.  This is lower than it was during the second week of February 1967-2017. Last week the NSA FT was lower by nearly 10,000 claims. There are 2 million more covered insured this February than during February 2018. A mere 10,000 claims for 2,000,000 workers is negligible.

The Seasonally Adjusted (SA) FTU could have been reported under 200,000 claims. The SA FTU could have been reported higher or lower than it was reported. It could have been reported under 230,000, under 220,000, under 210,000, and even under 200,000. ws that we are The SA FTU was reported at 239,000 (238,912.) A drop of 12,000 NSA FTU claims was reported as an increase of 4,000 SA FTU.

The Continuing Claims data recorded a slight increase to 2.134 million claims. The NSA CC data showed that the NSA CC was 189,148 claims lower than last February. There were 2.134 million claims this year compared to 2.323 million last February.

The Seasonally Adjusted CC value was reported at 1.772 million and could have been reported much lower than that. The seasonal factors used during the past 52 years means that the SA FTU could have been reported between 1.572 million and 1.816 million claims. Under 2 million claims is considered to be healthy. We had 189,000 fewer continuing claims for 2 million more workers.

The insured unemployment rate (IUR) was recorded at 1.49% and reported at 1.24%. The IUR is the number of covered insured who are receiving continuing claims. This is seriously lower than the U-3 unemployment rate of just over 4.0%, NSA. You might as well compare the covered insured to the JOLTS job openings data. Three different surveys measuring three different things. It is non-sense.

This was a strong report. When will we drop below 200,000 NSA FTU? Will it be reported if the number drops below 200,000 SA FTU? Could continuing claims drop below 1.25 million this year? Hang around until October.

It's the economy.