Reclaiming Common Sense

The weekly unemployment claims report is now, officially, a non-event. The report includes data on the record levels (non-seasonally adjusted) first-time unemployment (FTU) claims and continuing claims (CC) data and the reported seasonally adjusted (SA) FTU and CC data. It was thought that a level of under 300,000 SA FTU claims indicated a healthy jobs market. WE are at levels of NSA FTU and CC claims not seen for this time of year since April 2000. The problem is that the participation rate during March 2000 was 67.11% with an unemployment rate of 4.27%. This March we had a participation rate of 62.85% with an unemployment rate of 4.56%. This 4.3% difference in participation is not factored into the unemployment rate.  What Happened this week?

First-time Claims remain at the lowest levels seen since 2000. The spike last week was less than seen during prior years. We are at a level that should be being heralded. Crickets.

Continuing Claims continue to slide.  The continuing claims are at the lowest level for this week of the year since 2000.It is very possible that we will drop to under 2 million continuing claims within the matter of a few weeks. First-time claims feed the continuing claims level. The low level of first-time claims begets low continuing claims.

Does this report mean anything? We have elevated levels of multiple job holders, We have an elevated level of people working part-time jobs. Our participation rate is improving as the unemployment rate falls - unemployed workers are participants. The number of "non-participants" is declining - these are people who are not considered employed or unemployed. Sooner or later someone else  will start covering this report. Do we have to drop below 200,000 NSA or SA FTU? Do we have to drop below 1.9 million continuing claims?

It's the economy.