Weekly Unemployment Claims Soar Another 3M
Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:
The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims. Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus. States continued to identify increases related to the services industries broadly, again led by accommodation and food services. However, state comments indicated a wider impact across industries. Many states continued to cite the health care and social assistance, and manufacturing industries, while an increasing number of states identified the retail and wholesale trade and construction industries.
In the week ending March 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 6,648,000, an increase of 3,341,000 from the previous week's revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The previous week's level was revised up by 24,000 from 3,283,000 to 3,307,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,612,000, an increase of 1,607,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 6,000 from 998,250 to 1,004,250.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1 percent for the week ending March 21, an increase of 0.9 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 21 was 3,029,000, an increase of 1,245,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the highest level for insured unemployment since July 6, 2013 when it was 3,079,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 19,000 from 1,803,000 to 1,784,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,053,500, an increase of 327,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 14, 2017 when it was 2,062,000. The previous week's average was revised down by 4,750 from 1,731,000 to 1,726,250. [See full report]
This morning's seasonally adjusted 6.65 million new claims, up 3.3M from the previous week's revised figure, was worse than the Investing.com forecast of 3.5M.
Here is a close look at the data over the decade (with a callout for the past year), which gives a clearer sense of the overall trend in relation to the last recession.
As we can see, there's a good bit of volatility in this indicator, which is why the 4-week moving average (the highlighted number) is a more useful number than the weekly data. Here is the complete data series.
The headline Unemployment Insurance data is seasonally adjusted. What does the non-seasonally adjusted data look like? See the chart below, which clearly shows the extreme volatility of the non-adjusted data (the red dots). The 4-week MA gives an indication of the recurring pattern of seasonal change (note, for example, those regular January spikes).