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Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Time Jobless Claims

Have you caught your breath from that GDP beating yet?  Good, because it's time for the left hook in that one-two punch combo as First Time Jobless Claims come out.
Last week was extremely good.  The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for the week ending 5/14 came in at 409,000, beating estimates by 16,000.  The unadjusted number of initial claims came in at 357,872 (a decline of 36,711), and the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs (for the week ending 4/30) declined by 47,124 to a level of 7,936,548.
For the week ending 5/21, the Econoday-surveyed analysts are expecting the joy to continue.  They're calling for a further decline to "only" 404,000 initial claims.  And will the US Department of Labor, when we look at this week's Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, give us any joy?
In a word,no.
First off, the seasonally adjusted initial claims for the week ending 5/14 was adjusted upwards to 414,000.  So that's not great.  And then, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 424,000, missing expectations by 20,000.  The unadjusted number of initial claims rose to 371,857 (an increase of 13,985).  The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs (for the week ending 5/7) fell to 7,739,572, a decline of 196,976, so that might be good news.[1]
Overall, this day has been a bust for economic data.
[1]  But probably not.  If you recall, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 244,000 in April (the last month covered by the Employment situation report).  March had 216,000 new jobs, February had 192,000, and I can't find my figures for January.  Still, that lets us figure that we're looking at an average of 217,000 new jobs per month, or about 54,250 new jobs per week (assuming a four-week month).  Best case scenario, therefore, is that around 54,250 people who stopped claiming unemployment benefits in all programs went back to work.  That means that around 142,726 people simply exhausted their benefits and fell off the rolls.  That's not too good.

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