Thursday is Still Unemployment Claims Report Day

The weekly unemployment claims is released on Thursdays at 8:30 Am unless the release date falls on a holiday.There was a time that if the seasonally adjusted (SA) first-time unemployment (FTU) claims data was under 300,000 that it was "headline news." This year we have already had multiple weeks where the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) FTU claims data was recorded under 200,000 claims. You probably only heard about this if you were reading this column during the month of February are later. Last week we had 231,000 NSA FTU and 207,000 SA FTU. It was expected to  see a drop in NSA FTU  of 10.00% to 15.00% , placing the NSA FTU between 196,00 and 208,000 NSA FTU and with this week's SA Factor of 92.6 this SA FTU would be reported between  211,000 and 223,000. Last week the NSA FTU claims level for the second week of July increased. This week we received the NSA FTU data for the third week of July and the Continuing Claims (CC) data for the second week of July. It was possible that the continuing claims data could rise this week. What was recorded and what was reported this week?

First Time Claims recorded a drop to 201,257. This is significant. We had not been below the 200,000 level between December 1973 and August 2015. We have already been below 200,000 NSA FTU claims seven times this year. When we have dropped below 200,000 NSA FTU claims it has been during August or September. The pitchfork graph displays that we have not hit the low point of the year. This is a good thing.

First-time claims could have been reported under 160,000 claims. The seasonal factors used this week skewed the data higher to 217,000. Let that digest. The seasonally adjusted data was under 300,000, under 275,000, under 250,000, and even under 225,000. If we used the seasonal factor from 7/21/2001 then the SA FTU would have been reported at 197,000 claims. If we used the seasonal factor from 7/21/1973 then the SA FTU would have been reported at 187,000. July 20th is close to July 21st. The 7/20/1969 seasonal factor would have created a SA FTU of 167,000. This should be garnering headlines. Even the authors of the report have given up reporting the SA FTU "best since" line.

There were 250,000 fewer continuing claims this week of July compared to July 2017. The NSA FTU value was lower than the second week of July data for 1970, 1971, and 1972. This is significant because we have  141,951,699 covered insured worker right now. We had  52,803,500 during the week ending July 10, 1971. We have no such data for 1967 through 1970.

The continuing claims data could have been reported lower than it was. This data is important because it gives us an idea of what to expect from the Current Population Survey (CPS) U-3 data that will be released for the U-3 unemployment data. The two data sets are not correlated. The CC data measures those who were employed , who are unemployed, and who receive benefits. The U-3 data measures those who are out of work who want to have a job. This is different from the data set that measures job openings. This column has written a few articles on the urban legend of more Job Openings than unemployed workers, the most recent of which is "JOLTing Job Openings Data."

This data is important. We have seen more people working full-time jobs, some of which are most likely seasonal full-time jobs that do not earn unemployment benefits. The unemployment claims data should fall, in general, through September 30th. The NSA CC values should fall through the first week of October. There will be weeks with upward blips between now and then.  Watch the data.

It's the economy.

 Reclaiming Common Sense