Initial weekly unemployment claims increased to whopping 454,000 this week. Last week was revised to 413,000, up 9,000. Seems the U.S. just cannot get below that magic number of 375,000 people per week applying for unemployment benefits. More details below.
From the jobless claims report:
In the week ending Jan. 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 454,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 403,000. The 4-week moving average was 428,750, an increase of 15,750 from the previous week's revised average of 413,000.
Bear in mind initial unemployment claims are seasonally adjusted. Here are the raw totals:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 482,399 in the week ending Jan. 22, a decrease of 67,491 from the previous week. There were 502,710 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.
The thing to note is how initial claims are almost identical to a year ago. Surely America has run out of people to fire by now so why are initial claims staying stuck at record highs?
The 4 week average, now at 428,750, has incorporated in it the December outliner data point of a 410,000 weekly report, the 413,000 figure from last week, in addition to the above.
Below is the mathematical log of initial weekly unemployment claims, so one can get a better sense of the rise and fall of the numbers. A log helps remove some statistical noise, it's kind of an averaging. As we can see we have a step rise during the height of the recession, but then a leveling, not a similar decline. We have this yo-yo bobblehead, over 400,000 every week on initial claims, never ending labor malaise.
Below is a graph of the percent change in initial weekly unemployment claims for the last year. Look at how the numbers change bobs around zero, up and down, like a yo-yo.
Below is the 4 week moving average, set to a logarithmic scale to remove even more statistical noise, for the last year. Look at how the log of the 4 week average stays elevated. We need this metric to drop below 400,000 and keep dropping. Numerous economists say the number is 375,000 to show job growth. We see a strong decline, but then again, hasn't everyone in America been fired by now?
Below is a 2 year view of the 4 week moving average, set to a log scale.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending Jan. 8 was 9,410,977, a decrease of -223,826 from the previous week.
Last week's unrevised overview is here.