Initial weekly unemployment claims for the week ending on May 19th, 2012 were 370,000. The DOL reports this as a decrease of 2,000 from last week, yet last week's initial claims were revised up, from 370,000 to 372,000. In essence, initial claims for unemployment insurance are stagnating, not declining as needed, as seen in the below chart.
Initial unemployment claims are always revised due to the lag in individual states reporting their claims data and the unemployment filings statistic is just a one week time window. To see any sort of pattern, we need to look at the 4-week moving average. The 4 week moving average is now 370,000 and an decrease of 5,500. Last week's moving average was revised up to 375,500 from 375,000. Below is the 4 week moving average graph.
The magic number to show job creation is at minimum, below 375,000 initial unemployment claims, per week.
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 where every week initial unemployment insurance claims hover around 375,000-400,000, a very slow decline, or fat tale with now another hovering around 370,000. The below graph shows our 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. Even before the Great Recession the job market was still not so hot.
Continuing unemployment claims dropped, but we have large long term unemployed, and a number of states cut off benefits recently.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 12 was 3,260,000, a decrease of 29,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,289,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,271,500, a decrease of 17,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,288,750.
In the week ending May 5th, not seasonally adjusted, the raw number was 6,168,620 of official people obtaining some sort of unemployment insurance benefit. Officially, there are 12.5 million unemployed.