Reclaiming Common Sense

Non-Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims Fell to 177,948 Claims

This is the Eleventh Week this Year under 200,000 Claims - On Record Pace

The weekly unemployment claims data used to garner headlines. There was a time that if the seasonally adjusted (SA) first-time unemployment (FTU) claims data was under 300,000 that the media would throw a party. The SA FTU has been 300,000 or lower since March 7, 2015.  That FACT is questionable. There was a collective yawn when we had back to back SA FTU under 200,000 claims earlier this year. Last year we set a record for the number of weeks with the first-time claims under 200,000 non-seasonally adjusted (NSA.)Continuing claims have been under 2 million claims since April 1, 2017. Last October we set a record low for the Insured Unemployment Rate of 0.95%. What happened this week?

Record Low Level of Non-Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims Level for the First Week of August. The NSA FTU level this week was just 178,675. This is lower than last year's 185,174 claims. this is lower than the 223,000 NSA FTU claims recorded August 2, 1969 when we had 90 million fewer covered insured. Fewer claims. More workers. Lowest ever for the first week of August.

The seasonally adjusted first-time claims level could have been reported under 160,000 claims.  If the SA FTU was under 300,000 for any period of time under former President Obama it garnered headlines. The seasonally adjusted FTU has been under 300,000 claims since March 7, 2015. We even dropped below  200,000 SA FTU claims during April 6th and April 13th of this year. Crickets. The SA FTU should have been reported under 205,000 claims, and could have been recorded under 175,000 claims if the same seasonal factors used for this week of August from 1967-1973 were used to convert the NSA FTU to the SA FTU.

This was the twelfth week this year with NSA FTU under 200,000 Claims.  This column has been writing about this phenomenon since the first time the NSA FTU fell below the 200,000 level during 2015. We had one week under 200,000 during 2015, two during 2016, four during 2017, and 21 weeks under 200,000 claims during 2018. We only had one week under 200,000 during 2015, two weeks during 2016, and four weeks during 2017. Last year at this time we had eight weeks under 200,000 claims. That was during the all-time record year with 21 weeks under 200,000. We are ahead of schedule. We are ahead of pace for the 2018 record by three weeks and we have 2 million more covered insured.

The non-seasonally adjusted Continuing Claims (NSA CC) value came in at 1.696 million claims. The lowest the NSA CC value was during all of 1999 was 1.692 million during the first week of November. Continuing claims normally decline through the first week of October. How low can we go? We have 67.000 fewer claims this week of the year than we had last year at this time. We could drop to 1.28 million claims by October, comparable in number to October of 1973.

The SA CC value was 1.699 million - lower than the third week of July during 1970, 1971, and 1972. We had 52 million covered insured during 1972. We had 144 million covered insured this week. Even though the NSA CC was the lowest during the past four decades, it could have been reported higher than it was reported. The SA CC value has been under 2 million since April 1, 2017. This receives next to no attention.

The Insured Unemployment rate came in at 1.15%. Last year we were at 1.22%. Last year we hit 0.95% during October. Could we still drop below 0.90%? Probably. This is receiving "no attention."

This data may be only something an economic data geek may enjoy discussing. This is important to the average person in that fewer people are unemployed and more people are employed than we have seen in a generation. Both are happening simultaneously the economy. People are earning higher wages. People should be feeling good about this. The Democrat Presidential candidates have been berating a weak economy. We must live in an upside down, seasonally adjusted world. You see, it is a seasonally adjusted 32 degrees in Ohio right now. Oh, wait, it is 73 degrees non-seasonally adjusted. (The same as it was last week.)

It's the Economy.