"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

First Time Jobless Claims

It's Thursday, so once again it is time to return to the well and examine the jobless claims report.
As you may recall, last week's results were staggeringly bad.  Initial claims for 4/23 were revised upwards to 431,000, and then the initial claims for 4/30 were reported at 474,000 (missing expectations by 64,000).  The unadjusted claims came in at 412,873 (an increase of 27,251), and the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs was 8,014,919 (a 171,547 decrease from the prior week[1]).
This week, the Econoday-surveyed analysts are still optimistic.  They're calling for only 430,000 new claims.
Turning to the US Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, we see that those analysts were pretty much on target.  The first time claims for 4/30 were revised downwards to 473,000, and the advance figure for initial claims for the week ending 5/7 comes in at 434,000 - a figure that misses expectations by 4000 but, after last week, I think people will take it.  Unadjusted initial claims for 5/7 come in at 394,583, and the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs comes in at 7,983,672 ( a decline of 31,247 from the previous week[2]).
[1]  I did some similar calculations last week, but here goes:  April added 244,000 new jobs, or about 61,000 a week on average for the month.  This means that, at best, only 35.5% of that decline in the number of people claiming benefits can be attributed to people finding employment.  The other 64.5% (best case) just ran out of time and can no longer claim benefits.  So that 171,547 drop really isn't a cause for celebration.
[2]  I'll leave the optimism/pessimism calculations for this week as an exercise for the reader.

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