Initial unemployment claims continue to show never ending U.S. worker malaise. Initial weekly unemployment claims for the week ending on September 15th, 2012 were 382,000,. While the DOL reports this as an decrease of 3,000 from last week's revised figure of 385,000, last week was actually revised upwards by 3,000, so one might look at this as no change. Initial claims is always revised and almost always upwards.
The four week moving average is now 377,750, pretty much the break even point to indicate any job creation. Weekly Claims are always revised due to the time lag for individual states reporting their claims data. Additionally, the unemployment filings statistic is just a one week time window. Below is the four week moving average graph.
There is a correlation, with a time lag, of initial unemployment claims and payroll jobs. To see this relationship, the below graph shows the change in payrolls (in blue, scale to the right) against the monthly average of initial unemployment claims four week moving average (in maroon, scale to the left). We took a magic number of 400,000 initial claims as the zero inflection point. Anything above the zero line means less than 400,000 filed for unemployment benefits, anything below zero means more than 400,000 initial unemployment claims were filed, on average for the month. What we see is a strong correlation to payrolls being above 100,000 monthly if initial unemployment claims drops below 400,000. For more details see this article.
As the above graph shows, when taking the average 4-week moving average, to create any jobs at all, initial unemployment claims needs to be below 400,000. To really get some real job creation, the magic number for the 4-week moving average is 360,000. The number of jobs needed each month just to keep up with population growth varies, but the minimum is about 100,000. For more details on the number of jobs needed to keep up with the U.S. increasing population, read this article.
Below is the mathematical log of initial weekly unemployment claims. A log helps remove some statistical noise, it's kind of an averaging and gives a better sense of a pattern. As we can see, we have a step rise during the height of the recession, but then a leveling, then a very slow decline, or fat tail with the change increasing slightly. What we need to see is a sharp drop off, not the shape of graph below. We have a never ending job market malaise, we just cannot get initial claims to drop to the levels they need to be in order to really show some job growth. The recession ended officially in July 2009.
Below is the four week moving average, set to a log scale, from April 1st, 2007. Here we can see we still are not at pre-recession initial weekly unemployment claims levels. If anyone recalls, even before the Great Recession the job market was not so hot.
Continuing unemployment claims didn't budge, and we have large long term unemployed.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the week ending September 8, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending September 8 was 3,272,000, a decrease of 32,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,304,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,309,750, a decrease of 12,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,321,750.
In the week ending September 1st, not seasonally adjusted, the official number of people obtaining some sort of unemployment insurance benefit was 5,173,597. Officially, there are 12.8 million unemployed.