Reclaiming Common Sense

 If Good News is Recorded and Not Reported Did It Really Happen?

Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims Streak - Week #246


The weekly unemployment claims report used to garner bottom of the hour headline status as the seasonally adjusted claims level dropped from 500,000 to 400,000 to 300,000. The discussion shifted to the number of consecutive weeks under 300,000 SA FTU. Fifty. Sixty. Seventy. Eighty. Ninety. Presidential election. Crickets.


First-time Claims recorded a jump to 252,000 claims - as expected. First-time claims trend higher from the first week of October through the first week of January. It was projected that the NSA FTU would be recorded between 245,000 and 265,000 claims. This is even on the low side of that range,


The First-time Unemployment Rate was just 0.17%. We have seen the FUR dropping the past few years. The FUR was 0.19%, 0.18%, 0.16% and 0.15% the past four years.  The other side of the coin is that we have seen this value in the 0.26% to 0.34% range during 2000-2004. One week is not a trend. last week we were tied for the lowest ever FUR for the third week of November


The headline seasonally adjusted first-time claims data was reported at 213,000 claims. This is a drop from last week's 228,000 level, This is well under 300,000 claims.  The under 300k streak started March 7, 2015. This is week 246. It is important to note that the range of seasonal factors for this week of the year is very wide - in part because some Novembers have a fifth week of data - as does this year.


Continuing Claims rose to 1,543,410.  This is higher than last year's third week of November. We also have 2.1 million more covered insured this year compared to the  same week last year. This uptick was expected.


The Seasonally Adjusted Continuing Claims data was reported under 2 million for the 136th consecutive week.  Crickets in the media because there are crickets in the report. The seasonally adjusted data could have been reported higher than it was. This streak started April 1, 2017.


The Insured Unemployment Rate (IUR) was recorded at 1.07%.  This is just slightly lower than the 1.01% during the same week of the year last year. That was a record low for the third week of November. Again, one week does not make a trend.


The best form of unemployment insurance is a second job. We are at the second highest level of multiple job holders (MJH) during the month of October. We normally hit "peak MJH" during November or December. Even if the MJH workers lose a Full-time Job, most likely a seasonal FT job, they still should have one job. We may see our smallest spike this January. It is an election year. Campaign staffs will be expanding. Advertising staffs will be expanding. Ignore the weekly claims data at your own peril.


This column has been writing articles all year asking how low can the first-time claims data fall, how low can the continuing claims data fall, and how low can the IUR fall. There will "always" be a certain amount of people who are unemployed and collecting unemployment benefits. We were within 100,000 claims of a 46 year old record of 1.252  million (10/6/73) when we were at 1.350 million (10/4/18) and 1.369 million (10/5/19.) Could the NSA FTU claims level fall below 350,000 during the first week of January for the first time since the program started during January 1967. Last year we had 350,949 claims. January 1967 we had 346,000 claims. How low can we go? Will the sheer size of the covered insured workforce push the level slightly above 351,000 claims?


It's the Economy.