Initial weekly unemployment claims for the week ending on April 14th, 2012 were 386,000. The DOL reports this as a decrease of 2,000 from last week. The previous week was revised, from 380,000 to 388,000, an increase of 8,000. This is not good news for any recovery.
Every week initial unemployment claims are revised. One simply cannot compare the reported numbers on a week to week basis due to the lag in individual states reporting their claims data and revisions. Additionally the unemployment filings statistic is a one week time window. One needs to at minimum look at the 4-week moving average. The 4 week moving average is now 374,750 and an increase of 5,500. Last week's moving average was revised up to 369,250 from 368,500.
Below is the 4 week moving average graphed, set to a logarithmic scale to remove even more statistical noise, for the last year and an upward trend is emerging, which is bad news.
The magic number to show job creation is at minimum, below 400,000 initial unemployment claims, per week. Most Economists will quote 375,000 as the magic number to indicate job growth.
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 where every week initial unemployment insurance claims hover around 375,000-400,000, refusing to really drop. Initial claims appear to be returning to that hovering level, indicating a never ending labor malaise even though the recession ended officially in July 2009.
Below is the 4 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. Remember before the Great Recession the job market was still not so hot.
Continuing unemployment claims dropped, but since we have large long term unemployed still, that number includes people running out of benefits.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 7 was 3,297,000, an increase of 26,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,271,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,317,750, a decrease of 21,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,339,250.
In the week ending March 31st, not seasonally adjusted, the raw number was 6,765,080 official people obtaining some sort of unemployment insurance benefit. Officially, there are 12.7 million unemployed.