Reclaiming Common Sense

Record Twentieth Week this year with First-time Claims

Under 200,000 Claims

Thursdays are normally the day that the Weekly Unemployment Claims data is released. The release of the report at 8:30 AM Eastern Time used to be headline news. We had nearly 957,000 first-time claims during January of 2009. We saw under 200,000 non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time unemployment (FTU) claims recorded once during 2015. That was the first time since September 29, 1973. No headline news was reported during 2015 because the media covers the seasonally adjusted (SA) FTU data. We saw this happen again during 2016 and 2017. No headlines. The two years with the most sub-200,000 claims years were 1973 and 1967. We tied the 1973 level during September of this year. We tied the 1967 level last week. No headlines. There is other data that is being actively ignored. There is the continuing claims (CC) data and the Insured Unemployment Rate (IUR,) the percentage of the "covered insured" that are receiving continuing claims benefits. What was recorded and what was reported this week?

Non-Seasonally First-time Unemployment Claims remained under 200,000. This was the twentieth (20th) week with NSA FTU under 200,000 claims this year.  We have seen the NSA FTU claims lower during the third week of October during 1967, 1968, and 1969. The thing to remember is that we have 142.513 million covered insured this week, and during the 1960s we had fewer than 53 million covered insured. We have 16,000 to 46,000 more first-time claims for 89,000,000 more potential unemployment benefits recipients. This is significant. It was projected that the NSA FTU could have come in between 186,000 and 199,000 claims.

The seasonally adjusted first time claims data could have been reported even lower than it was reported. The SA FTU could have been reported at 214,000 instead of 215,000 claims. This is not that earth-shattering a difference. The data could have also been reported higher if we used the seasonal factors (SF) from the 1960s, 1970s, and early 2000s.Seasonal Factors matters.

Did you read where we were under 200,000 non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims for the twentieth time this year? The only other years we say this level of NSA FTU claims were during 2015 (1,) 2016 (2,) 2017 (4,) 1972 (7,) 1973 (13,) and 1967 (19.) We still may have another week where we can stay below 200,000 next week. Watch the revisions. Also, soon we will see wholesale changes to the future, published, SF for the remainder of the year.

Continuing Claims remained under 1.4 million claims. We had not been under 1.5 million claims during one week since the 1970s. The NSA CC value was recorded at 1,369,656. The last time we were under 1.4 million was September 1st through November 3rd of 1973.

The seasonally adjusted continuing claims data could have been reported lower. The same situation exists with e SA CC claims data ans the SA FTU claims data. These numbers could have been reported higher or lower than they were "reported." I say "reported" because "nobody" covers the continuing claims data.

The percentage of the covered insured receiving continuing claims remains under 1.00%. Officially the NSA IUR is 1.0%. The real value is 0.97% and that is rounded to 1.0%. We never had an IUR of 1.5% until 1988. We had never had an IUR of 1.4 until October of 2000. We had never had an IUR of 1.3% until 2015. We had never had an IUR of 1.1% until 2017. We had never been under 1.0% until this year.

What difference does it make? If "nobody" is covering the data does it really matter? Ask those people who have collected paychecks instead of unemployment benefits. Ask those who have full-time jobs instead of part-time jobs. The weekly claims data is the most recent piece of data that we gather at anytime during the month. Next week we may see the NSA FTU under 200,000 claims. Next week we should see the continuing claims data remain under 1.4 million claims. It will be interesting to see what impact the Fall hiring for the Christmas Season will have on the dual jobs numbers during the next few months. Dual job workers do not receive benefits when they lose one of their jobs. Being employed make a big difference in the psyche of the worker and the economy.

It's the economy.