Weekly jobless claims show more of the same

posted at 9:55 am on June 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Statistically, there are few things less “unexpected” than a continuation of the status quo.  That is exactly what this week’s report on initial jobless claims shows, a slight bump upwards in both last week’s claims and an increase in the previous week’s estimate:

In the week ending June 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 429,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 420,000. The 4-week moving average was 426,250, unchanged from the previous week’s revised average of 426,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.9 percent for the week ending June 11, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate of 2.9 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 11 was 3,697,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,698,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,709,500, a decrease of 5,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,714,750.

It’s the eleventh week in a row that the number has been above 400,000 claims, after about a quarter of weekly claims coming in around the 380K level.  To see the trend, let’s look at the series of seasonally-adjusted initial jobless claims since the midterm elections:

I’ve made the base for the chart the 325K number that analysts generally consider the high end of a job-creation range.  As this shows, the changes over the past six weeks in this number have mainly been statistical noise.  The relationship to a healthy level of weekly initial claims hasn’t really changed at all, but maintained the same relative distance from that range.  Bouncing up and down a little from this range should hardly be “unexpected”; almost by definition, only a major shift from this range would be unexpected.

Well, that’s true everywhere but at Reuters, anyway:

New claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting little improvement in the labor market this month after employment stumbled in May.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 420,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims to edge up to 415,000 from a previously reported count of 414,000.

This strange — and entirely expected — analysis also added another weird claim:

Initial claims have now been above the 400,000 mark for 11 weeks in a row. Analysts normally associate that level with a stable labor market.

Really?  Take a look at the historical series of weekly claims between December 2005 and December 2007, the last time we really had “stability” in the labor force.  The highest number in that period was 355,000 in a week, and that was in December 2007 when the economy slid into recession. In fact, between January 2004 and January 2008, we had only two weeks of 400K-level weekly claims, both in September 2005, and they were very much the exception. The average for that four-year span is 326,735, and the median number is 324,000 — which is why I usually use the 325K number in my analyses.   We actually didn’t get to the 400K level until July 2008, at which point no one considered the labor market “stable.”

Perhaps economic indicators wouldn’t be so surprising for Reuters if they spent more time looking at actual numbers and trends rather than engaging in hopeful spitballing.

Update: Think I’m fudging those baseline expectatations by using the supposedly “overheated” Bush economic expansion?  Well, take a look at the same series for the four years between 1996 and 1999.  The average number of initial jobless claims per week in that period was 321,986, and the median was 317,500.  There was exactly one week of 400,000 or more claims in a week, and that took place in January 1996.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

“The economy acted stupidly.”
PBHO

Khun Joe on June 23, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Expected!

MaiDee on June 23, 2011 at 9:58 AM

#savedorcreated
#smartpower

Brian1972 on June 23, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Yes I saw that “unexpected” headline via Yahoo News and rolled my eyes. Talk about wearing out a word.

Sharr on June 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Look what the market is doing. In a few months the market will be lower and with that people’s 401(k)’s.

Voters are getting pissed.

Oil Can on June 23, 2011 at 10:01 AM

the most expected thing in the world today is BS college educated morons posing as journalists carrying water for the most unqualified and ignorant President this fine country as ever imagined……

SDarchitect on June 23, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Initial claims have now been above the 400,000 mark for 11 weeks in a row. Analysts normally associate that level with a stable labor market.

Try “stagnant” instead.

Obama’s campaign theme:

It appears we hit the bottom 2 years ago, and thanks to my leadership, it hasn’t gotten any worse. The workforce is stable at the lowest level of employment since somebody else’s administration.

BobMbx on June 23, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Don’t worry, when the debt at last exceeds the entire size of the economy then we’ll all have common purpose and skin in the game.

Western_Civ on June 23, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Obama is unelectable

Roy Rogers on June 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM

Add one more sole to the initial claims in two weeks.
Thanks Obama and your high oil prices…which is used to make plastics.

Electrongod on June 23, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Initial claims have now been above the 400,000 mark for 11 weeks in a row. Analysts normally associate that level with a stable labor market.

Apparently the analysts have taken the Obama team’s advice and declared this the “new normal”.

hawksruleva on June 23, 2011 at 10:04 AM

These numbers underscore my belief that Obama will not be the Democrat nominee in 2012.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Evidently “the economy” hasn’t heard that the recession is over.

GarandFan on June 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM

I just have a mental picture of Obama sitting on the bowels of the White house rubbing his hands together cackling, “excellent, my plans are coming together nicely.”

Tommy_G on June 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM

These numbers underscore my belief that Obama will not be the Democrat nominee in 2012.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

I admire your optimism, but who could(or would for that matter) replace him on the ticket? Hillary isn’t suicidal enough to run on this guy’s record. Not to mention that Barry’s already got millions in the bank to stave off any potential challenger.

Doughboy on June 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

More Progress courtesy of our Dear Reader!

And what is the Democratic National Socialist Party’s response to this fantastic ‘Progress’? RAISE TAXES & Waste even more money buying votes.

Chip on June 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

That’s soul not sole but there will be two soles involved anyway.

Electrongod on June 23, 2011 at 10:09 AM

These numbers underscore my belief that Obama will not be the Democrat nominee in 2012.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Are you, me and Joseph Farah the only people who think this. I’ve been referring to President Obama as “Franklin Pierce” for about a year now and no one has got the joke yet.

Tommy_G on June 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Given the redundancy of the meme, the only thing “unexpected” any more is that anyone supports Obama at all.

beatcanvas on June 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Thank gaia for the stimulus! If we didn’t pass that, the unemployment rate would probably still be around 7.5% at this point.

We need a few earthquakes and a tsunami like Japan to create more infrastructure projects. Lucky Japanese. Their economy is going to be roaring with all that government borrowing and spending going on.

/JM Keynes

mankai on June 23, 2011 at 10:14 AM

These numbers underscore my belief that Obama will not be the Democrat nominee in 2012.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

I admire your optimism, but who could(or would for that matter) replace him on the ticket? Hillary isn’t suicidal enough to run on this guy’s record. Not to mention that Barry’s already got millions in the bank to stave off any potential challenger.

Doughboy on June 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

What about Romney or Huntsman?

Chip on June 23, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I admire your optimism, but who could(or would for that matter) replace him on the ticket? Hillary isn’t suicidal enough to run on this guy’s record. Not to mention that Barry’s already got millions in the bank to stave off any potential challenger.

Doughboy on June 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Remember now, Barry only cares about Barry. If he wants out, that’s all that matters to him.

Patrick S on June 23, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Where are the jobs, Mr. President?

/Pelosi

mankai on June 23, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Yes I saw that “unexpected” headline via Yahoo News and rolled my eyes. Talk about wearing out a word.

Sharr on June 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I kind of cringe when I hear that word, like hearing the Knights who say “NI!”

UltimateBob on June 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Remember now, Barry only cares about Barry. If he wants out, that’s all that matters to him.

Patrick S on June 23, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Barry’s got way too big of an ego and enjoys the perks of the Presidency too much to just walk away. At least LBJ had an incredibly unpopular war and pending health issues to give him an out. If Obama quits over the economy, he’ll confirm to the world that’s he the biggest chump to ever sit in the Oval Office.

Doughboy on June 23, 2011 at 10:19 AM

After raising the minimum wage, the new norm for unemployment is higher….unexpectedly.

Unless you listened to the conservatives telling everyone it would happen.

DavidM on June 23, 2011 at 10:19 AM

As long as Karl Marx is in the White House, the economy will not recover.
-
Four additional years of recession if he is re-elected.
-
In fact, even more companys will shut down in the face of Big Brother control.
-

esblowfeld on June 23, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Unlike the temperature record for the 21st century, there’s a trend in that graph.

MNHawk on June 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM

And as we draw back our troops, the military will not renew contracts and there will be more people looking for work.

csdeven on June 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM

“If the private sector would just hire everyone this problem would go away. Damn I’m smart.”

-PBHO

Bishop on June 23, 2011 at 10:24 AM

“Drunk driver unexpectedly creates car accident , again. Media/Experts puzzled.”

the_nile on June 23, 2011 at 10:24 AM

What about Romney or Huntsman?
Chip on June 23, 2011 at 10:15 AM

O_O Hehehehehehehehehehehehe

Bishop on June 23, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Tommy_G on June 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM

I do. I used to think Mr. Pierce was the worst President in history after writing a biography of him for a college class (thank you GI bill!)

FailBama has bumped FP to my #2 spot.

dogsoldier on June 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM

And as we draw back our troops, the military will not renew contracts and there will be more people looking for work.

csdeven on June 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Yes, but if that truly led to a cut in borrowing or lower taxation, the result would be more sustainable (real) jobs throughout the economy. The problem is that the borrowing and spending will just shift.

Jobs “created” by the government are a necessary evil and come at the cost of other jobs that would be the result of real economic activity. Static analysis of the economy is one of the curses of the last 80 years.

mankai on June 23, 2011 at 10:27 AM

I wish reuters and AssPress would stop providing FailBama with propaganda.

If he was a republican the headline would read:

“429,000 MORE UNEMPLOYED! WHEN WILL IT END?”

and

“DEPRESSION DEEPENS UNEMPLOYMENT SKYROCKETS!”

dogsoldier on June 23, 2011 at 10:30 AM

I just have a mental picture of Obama sitting on the bowels of the White house rubbing his hands together cackling, “excellent, my plans are coming together nicely.”

Tommy_G on June 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM

…with the democratics’ favorite Nazi stooge, George Soros standing above him.

slickwillie2001 on June 23, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Unexpected? This economy is doing what every economy under socialist control has done since the beginning of time. You can set your watch by it.

tommyboy on June 23, 2011 at 10:31 AM

These numbers underscore my belief that Obama will not be the Democrat nominee in 2012.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Hillary could take it from little Bammie in a heartbeat. The democratics will swear up and down that they are loyal to him, until a plausible alternative appears, then he’s history.

I would not even discount the possibility of the ‘party elders’ elbowing him out before the election, much like they did President Richard Nixon. There are reports that there are scandals festering in Chicago that could blow him away. If the Chicago crowd turns on him, under the bus he will go.

slickwillie2001 on June 23, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Perhaps economic indicators wouldn’t be so surprising for Reuters if they spent more time looking at actual numbers and trends rather than engaging in hopeful spitballing attempts to lower the bar and make Obama look better.

Midas on June 23, 2011 at 10:34 AM

If only Obama had put a much effort into creating jobs, as he has his playing golf.

BruthaMan on June 23, 2011 at 10:35 AM

The only thing that would be “unexpected” is a rapid turnaround in the economy and unemployment – and we KNOW that ain’t gonna happen. Anyone who can’t see that this is only going to get worse – a LOT worse – under this marxist regime is deluded. Four more years of this bunch will be exactly what they want because it will cause anarchy. They are TRYING to make this happen. The sooner we expel them, the better.

HomeoftheBrave on June 23, 2011 at 10:36 AM

These numbers underscore my belief that Obama will not be the Democrat nominee in 2012.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

I admire your optimism, but who could(or would for that matter) replace him on the ticket? Hillary isn’t suicidal enough to run on this guy’s record. Not to mention that Barry’s already got millions in the bank to stave off any potential challenger.

Doughboy on June 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

I can envision multiple scenarios, so I don’t know how it will play out, but he’s not just beatable, he’s a guaranteed loser and Dem insiders know it. The scent of scandal is in the air, his “hope and change” act won’t sell a second time, and the economy is poised to only get worse. I am betting the Dems turn on him for the sake of the state and local races, and to salvage what they can of Congress.

I also believe his ego cannot handle a loss. He may step aside to preserve what little messianic myth remains.

I know I could be wrong because liberals aren’t known for rationality. Perhaps they will foolishly believe they can mass market failure.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Well, I for one expected it to be unexpected. In other words, it would have been unexpected to me if it had been expected.

EA_MAN on June 23, 2011 at 10:41 AM

I kind of cringe when I hear that word, like hearing the Knights who say “NI!”

UltimateBob on June 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM

ecky ecky ecky pitang zooboing!

(or something like that)

Midas on June 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM

You know I just got confirmation of what I have been saying, from the most unlikely source. First here is the quote FTA:

Roughly 25 million Americans were unable to find full-time work in May, and the central bank projects that most of those people will remain unemployed for years to come

From an article on Yahoo and the NYSlimes.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Fed-to-Defer-New-Efforts-for-nytimes-3939375023.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=3&asset=&ccode=

dogsoldier on June 23, 2011 at 10:45 AM

I can’t see the redhead (Fiona?) from here. She must be farther back in line, out of camera range.

ZeeMI on June 23, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Last weekend I stopped for gas at an SA in SW Mpls. They were training in a new pump jockey.

He was about 55-60 years old, corporate tan and haircut.

He had the “fish out of water” vibe all over him.

I really felt for the guy. I’m sure he was grateful to have the gig.

Welcome to the “post-American” American economy, pal.

Socialism rocks!

Bruno Strozek on June 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Assuming the lower end average of 410,000 weekly claim, multiply by the # of data (33) on the chart, we get the number 13,530,000. [This is a very simplified view of the chart. I know.]

Is that true? 13.5 million Americans made the first time jobless claim since 11/2010.

Granted some may have found works, the number does not reflect the truly unemployed.

But it is still a staggering number. What is the comparable time period that we have this kind of number?

Sir Napsalot on June 23, 2011 at 10:58 AM

I can’t see the redhead (Fiona?) from here. She must be farther back in line, out of camera range.

ZeeMI on June 23, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Maybe she got a job. We’ve all be rooting for her.

apostic on June 23, 2011 at 11:03 AM

For the 13,589th time,

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

parke on June 23, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Thank you President Obama.

crr6 on May 1, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Del Dolemonte on June 23, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Focused like a laser.

KMC1 on June 23, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Another bump in the road. This road is getting quite bumpy.

rjoco1 on June 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Count it!

Thank you President Obama!

cccp6 everyday since January 20, 2009 24/7

Or as the local leftist blogger here in town put it in June of 2009 “Better every day!”.

mankai on June 23, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Bruno Strozek on June 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Last week there was a white haired man fitting the same description waiting tables in a local steak house.

flyfisher on June 23, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Is Weiner in that line?

Dingbat63 on June 23, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Initial claims have now been above the 400,000 mark for 11 weeks in a row. Analysts normally associate that level with a stable labor market.

Really? Take a look at the historical series of weekly claims between December 2005 and December 2007, the last time we really had “stability” in the labor force. The highest number in that period was 355,000 in a week, and that was in December 2007 when the economy slid into recession. In fact, between January 2004 and January 2008, we had only two weeks of 400K-level weekly claims, both in September 2005, and they were very much the exception. The average for that four-year span is 326,735, and the median number is 324,000 — which is why I usually use the 325K number in my analyses. We actually didn’t get to the 400K level until July 2008, at which point no one considered the labor market “stable.”

If memory serves, just before the latest revision, 380K was seen as “stable employment”. Look for the “experts” to continue to revise that number upward until they can finally accurately claim the POR Economy (yes, I know that Pelosi is now effectively out of power, but her influence lives on) is “stable”.

Steve Eggleston on June 23, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Speaking of “unexpected” news, even though the upward revision of the prior week’s unemployment numbers can no longer be considered “unexpected”, the 6K revision from 414K to 420K was. That means the last time it was below 420K was the week ending May 14, when it was 414K.

Steve Eggleston on June 23, 2011 at 11:48 AM

So Reuters is now using “more than expected” instead of “unexpectedly”.

bugsy on June 23, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Paging Gov. Perry, paging Gov. Perry.

humdinger on June 23, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Dow’s dropping like Grandpa’s trousers.

Chuck Schick on June 23, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Finally, Mr. Obama has made a strategic blunder. While he needs to raise money and organize, he decided to be a candidate this year rather than president. He has thus unnecessarily abandoned one of incumbency’s great strengths, which is the opportunity to govern and distance himself from partisan politics until next spring. Instead, Team Obama has attacked potential GOP opponents and slandered Republican proposals with abandon. This is not what the public is looking for from the former apostle of hope and change.

Schadenfreude on June 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM

I just have a mental picture of Obama sitting on the bowels of the White house rubbing his hands together cackling, “excellent, my plans are coming together nicely.”

Tommy_G on June 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Naw, I am picturing the Monty Python skit where the fellow wants to be a Lion Tamer…

Counsellor Yes, yes, yes, I do follow, Mr Anchovy, but you see the snag is… if I now call Mr Chipperfield and say to him, ‘look here, I’ve got a forty-five-year-old chartered accountant with me who wants to become a lion tamer’, his first question is not going to be ‘does he have his own hat?’ He’s going to ask what sort of experience you’ve had with lions.
Anchovy Well I … I’ve seen them at the zoo.
Counsellor Good, good, good.
Anchovy Lively brown furry things with short stumpy legs and great long noses. I don’t know what all the fuss is about, I could tame one of those. They look pretty tame to start with.
Counsellor And these, er, these lions … how high are they?
Anchovy (indicating a height of one foot) Well they’re about so high, you know. They don’t frighten me at all.
Counsellor Really. And do these lions eat ants?
Anchovy Yes, that’s right.
Counsellor Er, well, Mr Anchovy … I’m afraid what you’ve got hold of there is an anteater.
Anchovy A what?
Counsellor An anteater. Not a lion. You see a lion is a huge savage beast, about five feet high, ten feet long, weighing about four hundred pounds, running forty miles per hour, with masses of sharp pointed teeth and nasty long razor-sharp claws that can rip your belly open before you can say ‘Eric Robinson’, and they look like this.

The counsellor produces large picture of a lion and shows to Mr Anchovy who screams and passes out.

Obama You mean being President isn’t all galas and ribbon cuttings and such?

orbitalair on June 23, 2011 at 2:42 PM

And as we draw back our troops, the military will not renew contracts and there will be more people looking for work.

csdeven on June 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM

We are seeing this already. Our sales went from 200million to 6million, next quarter looks worse. I hope this company can hold on, do some product R&D in the next year and be ready when it turns around. Otherwise I’ll have to go home and work out of my garage (embedded hardware and software development).

After this last Shuttle launch, NASA will start to shrink a lot too.

orbitalair on June 23, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Sept 2005 was due to Katrina, me thinks.

UncleKev on June 23, 2011 at 7:45 PM