Thursday, 31 January 2008

Initial Jobless Claims Soar

With a dearth of positive economic data, the bull market cheerleaders have been pointing to the low initial jobless claims numbers in recent weeks as an indication that the labor market is still relatively healthy. This week's numbers suggest the permabulls have one less straw to clutch at as evidence the US economy is not screeching to a halt. from the US department of labor:



In the week ending Jan. 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 375,000, an increase of 69,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 306,000. The 4-week moving average was 325,750, an increase of 10,250 from the previous week's revised average of 315,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0 percent for the week ending Jan. 19, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate of 2.0 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Jan. 19 was 2,716,000, an increase of 47,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,669,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,705,000, a decrease of 9,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,714,500.

This week's data marks the biggest increase since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The 4 week average remains relatively low at 325,750. Remembering the lesson John Maudlin gave on seasonally unadjusted number shows that unadjusted claims actually fell this week. So again, the seasonal factors are weaving their magic and therefore the seasonally adjusted number should be taken with a grain of salt.

After a positive ADP report yesterday, today's initial jobless claims throws a spanner in the works before the nonfarm payrolls report. Tomorrow should be an interesting day for the most over-hyped and unreliable piece of economic data of the month.