Weekly Unemployment Claims: 2.12M, Down 323K from Last Week

Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

COVID-19 Impact
The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment. This report now includes information on claimants filing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims.

In the week ending May 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 2,123,000, a decrease of 323,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 8,000 from 2,438,000 to 2,446,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,608,000, a decrease of 436,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,000 from 3,042,000 to 3,044,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 14.5 percent for the week ending May 16, a decrease of 2.6 percentage points from the previous week's revised rate. The previous week's rate was revised down by 0.1 from 17.2 to 17.1 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 16 was 21,052,000, a decrease of 3,860,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 161,000 from 25,073,000 to 24,912,000. The 4-week moving average was 22,722,250, an increase of 760,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 40,250 from 22,002,250 to 21,962,000. [See full report]

This morning's seasonally adjusted 2.123M new claims, down 323K from the previous week's revised figure, was slightly worse than the Investing.com forecast of 2.1M.

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.

Unemployment Claims since 2007

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.

Unemployment Claims

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).