Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weekly claims have been flat this year

As the top chart shows, weekly unemployment claims—abstracting from two periods in which seasonal adjustment factors proved faulty—have been essentially flat all year, averaging 465K, which also happens to be the latest weekly reading. No message here; this is entirely consistent with the sub-par recovery we've had so far.

As the second chart shows, however, the number of persons receiving unemployment compensation insurance is once again declining. In fact, the number has dropped by 1 million since the beginning of August. This could mean that more people are finding jobs, or it could mean that more people are sitting at home discouraged, or probably some of both. I think it's more of the former, and I note (again) in that regard that the household survey of private sector employment has recorded 1.8 million new jobs this year through August.

All this adds up to moderately positive news, consistent with a sub-par recovery. And again, not even a hint of a double-dip recession.


Bill said...

I see that the unadjusted claims jumped by quite a bit. Cause for concern based on your chart last week that showed the trend in unadjusted claims was on a downward slope?

Scott Grannis said...

I don't think the rise in unadjusted claims (or adjusted claims for that matter) was enough to be statistically significant. These series always bounce around a lot from week to week.

Rick said...

Continuing claims should be falling at this time since the 99 week maximum has now moved to layoffs on or after about November 1, 2008. Also, the weekly claim stats are not picking up the many jobless self-employed who do not file a claim because they know that they are ineligible for the benefit. So, the payroll employment situation has stabilized at a significantly lower base. If the 1980's are any guide, employment will not return anywhere near its pre-recession levels before 2016. During Reagan's terms, after five quarters of real GDP growth at or greater than 7%, it still took another 5 years for the employment picture to recover. Hence, my pessimism about our current situation.