Initial Unemployment Claims at Levels Not Seen Since 1973

The DOL reported people filing for initial unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending on July 18th, 2015 was 255,000, a 26,000 decrease from the previous week of 281,000.  The DOL proclaims this is the largest drop since November 24th, 1973, when initial claims was 233,000.  The DOL also states this is no statistical anomaly.  Graphed below is initial claims.


initial claims


Below is the weekly change for initial claims where one can see the swings from week to week.


initial claims


The four week moving average decreased by 4,000 to 278,500.   The below graph we see the four week moving average from 2007 to present.  It took forever for initial claims to decline, yet decline they finally have....heading to a new low to boot!


initial claims 4 week moving average


Below is the mathematical log scaling of initial weekly unemployment claims.  A log scale 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 to where it is now. .  There are a lot of people out there who are not counted in labor force statistics who need a job to this day



Continuing claims are also at a year 2000 low and stands at 2,207,000 for the week ending July 11th.  The below graph is the number change from week to week on continuing claims and it shows there are large swings in this statistic.


continuing claims


Initial unemployment claims is just a raw figure and not adjust for population growth.  The Wall Street Journal estimated initial claims has been at record lows for a year when adjusting for growth:

Broadly, claims have fairly consistently declined since the economic recovery began in 2009. And when adjusting for population growth, jobless claims have been at or near the lowest levels on records back to the 1960s for the past year. The labor force is more than 70% larger today than it was in the early 1970s, when claims were last this low.

We continually see statistics which show the U.S. is in economic recovery yet so many don't see it or feel it.  Yet initial unemployment claims falling to a 42 year low is quite astounding.  In 1973 Nixon was in office and people were driving gas guzzling cars.

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