Initial weekly unemployment claims dropped to 388,000 this week. This is the first time initial weekly unemployment claims have dropped below 400,000 for 2 years, 5 months or July 2008.
The question is how much the blizzards affected those filing. Weekly initial unemployment claims are seasonally adjusted, but it's unclear, when the entire country is shut down due to weather, plus the biggest holiday of the year, if those seasonally adjustments can possibly account enough for these events. Supposedly $1 billion was lost in retail sales due to weather, so one would assume this report is an anomaly for similar reasons.
From the jobless claims report:
In the week ending Dec. 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 388,000, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 422,000. The 4-week moving average was 414,000, a decrease of 12,500 from the previous week's revised average of 426,500.
Take that drop of 34,000 between weeks with a grain of salt. Every week the previously week's numbers are revised upward, with this week no exception, revised upward +2,000.
While one week does not a pattern make, this is still some great news. Finally breaking through that 400,000 threshold, I think anybody right now will take that, regardless if people were froze over and stuck in a snow drift, thus couldn't show up to the unemployment office. Still, the better number is the 4 week average, which is now at 414,000. That said, the 4 week average is also revised continually.
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.
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. Here a trend that is certain would appear. It looks like we have a start, but keep your fingers crossed, wait and see. Again, we need this metric to stay 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.
Less people collected the extended, or emergency unemployment insurance. Since we know people are dropping off of the rolls, this is the next wave in the long term unemployed.
States reported 3,711,288 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending Dec. 11, a decrease of 77,741 from the prior week. There were 4,869,540 claimants in the comparable week in 2009. EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.