I hate initial weekly unemployment claims as an economic metric. It is a volatile number, subject to revisions, and has much statistical noise. That said, every single week, over and over, we are simply not seeing initial unemployment claims really drop. One has to wonder where all these people are coming from and has every single American at this point been fired from a job? You have to lose a job to apply for unemployment, and every single week we have over 400,000 more people apply. This metric just never seems to drop! From the jobless claims report:
In the week ending Sept. 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 465,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 453,000. The 4-week moving average was 463,250, a decrease of 3,250 from the previous week's revised average of 466,500.
Below is the mathematical log of initial weekly unemployment claims, so one can get a better sense of the rise and fall of the numbers. A log helps remove some statistical noise, it's kind of an averaging. As we can see we have a step rise during the height of the recession, but then a leveling, not a similar decline. We have this bobblehead, over 400,000, never ending labor malaise. This does not bode well for any sort of real recovery, which must include jobs.
Below is a graph of the percent change in initial weekly unemployment claims for the last year. Look at how the numbers change bobs around zero, up and down, like a yo-yo. In other words, as a pattern, the numbers are simply not dropping.
Below is the 4 week moving average, also set to logs to remove even more statistical noise, for the last year. Here too one can see this yo-yo affect around 455,000, just bobbing up and down, no steady decline!
We must, simply must get initial claims below 400,000. This is a national emergency, job growth and job creation.
This post also reminds folks that 12,000 increase, decrease, even 25,000 in initial weekly unemployment claims is simply not a trend. One cannot read too much into these weekly statistical reports and must take the long view on employment statistics as well as dig into the real numbers of people literally falling off of the count.