Weekly jobless claims remain flat

posted at 9:25 am on June 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When I first looked at the weekly report from the Department of Labor on initial jobless claims, it didn’t look like news to me.  The number remained virtually unchanged from last week, going from 429,000 to 428,000, which barely qualifies as statistical noise:

In the week ending June 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 428,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 429,000. The 4-week moving average was 426,750, an increase of 500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 426,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.9 percent for the week ending June 18, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week’s revised rate of 3.0 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 18 was 3,702,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,714,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,703,500, a decrease of 11,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,714,750.

The near-equality of the claims number to the weekly average speaks to the consistency seen in the numbers since early April.  Claims rose as the second quarter began, with a significant spike from the Q1 range of 380K and spiked upward to over 470K before settling in around 425K.  As I noted last week, the data is as consistent and predictable as anything we’ve seen over the last six months.

So, it’s not really news, or it wasn’t — until news outlets decided to spin the results a little, as Steve Eggleston caught.  The AP didn’t try making this week’s numbers look good or overstate the miniscule drop of 1,000 claims, but the outlet did spin the Q1 level:

Applications had fallen in February to 375,000, a level that signals sustainable job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for seven of nine weeks. But applications then surged to an eight-month high of 478,000 in April and have shown only modest improvement since that time.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, has been stuck at about 426,000 for a month.

Reuters was even worse:

It was the 12th straight week that claims have been above 400,000, a level that is usually associated with a stable labor market. Employment stumbled badly in May, with employers adding just 54,000 jobs — the fewest in eight months.

No, the 375K level does not signal sustainable job growth, and the 400K level doesn’t signal job-market stability, either.  I covered this in last week’s analysis, where I used actual DoL data to determine what initial jobless claims level was associated with growth and stability.  The only time we’ve gotten to 400K before Obama took office was when we were heading into unemployment crises.  And periods associated with sustainable job growth had averages and medians at the 325K level, not the 375K level:

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.” …

Think I’m fudging those baseline expectations 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.

Perhaps if the AP and Reuters used actual data rather than listen to White House shills on economics, they wouldn’t have to use “unexpectedly” in their reports so often.

Update: CNBC switched to the Reuters report, so I updated the AP link.

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Weekly jobless claims remain flat…

…because McDonalds isn’t hiring.

Akzed on June 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM

No, the 375K level does not signal sustainable job growth, and the 400K level doesn’t signal job-market stability, either.

It’s called moving the goalposts, Ed. The drive-bys have to redefine what’s good economic news and what isn’t. Just wait til next year. If we get even 1/10 of a percent below 9% unemployment, they’ll start talking about how we’re in a booming recovery and how 8.9% is actually really good given the circumstances.

Doughboy on June 30, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Reuters analysis is 100% correct Ed.

The labor market is consistently bad.

PatriotRider on June 30, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Ok..What happened to the Redhead Lady on the cell phone?!?..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

That does look a bit like Tony Weiner in the light gray suit…

phreshone on June 30, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Ok..What happened to the Redhead Lady on the cell phone?!?..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

I think she’s working the drive-thru.

Doughboy on June 30, 2011 at 9:32 AM

They aren’t flat. In two weeks the numbers will be adjusted upwards. This has been the MO for several months now.

NotCoach on June 30, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Weekly jobless claims remain flat

Is that good news or bad news? ha.

ORconservative on June 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

She bought a coat, moved to North Dakota and got a job.

NotCoach on June 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Minor correction on the link to the AP story because CNBC switched over to the Reuters version right after I sent it over to Ed.

I do note that CNBC’s headline still reads “Jobs Picture Remains Ugly as Weekly Claims Still High”

Steve Eggleston on June 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

She bought a coat, moved to North Dakota and got a job.

NotCoach on June 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Good deal!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:35 AM

The Soviet Union solved unemployment. You showed up and pretended to work, and they pretended to pay you enough to live on.

RBMN on June 30, 2011 at 9:36 AM

MSM shilling for the fascist regime? I did not expect that.

rbj on June 30, 2011 at 9:36 AM

I think she’s working the drive-thru.

Doughboy on June 30, 2011 at 9:32 AM

LoL!..I hear you..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:36 AM

Ok..What happened to the Redhead Lady on the cell phone?!?..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Ed didn’t want to use Fiona when the headline mentioned ‘flat’.

darwin-t on June 30, 2011 at 9:39 AM

She bought a coat, moved to North Dakota and got a job.

NotCoach on June 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Good deal!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Alas, Fiona: We hardly knew ye….

apostic on June 30, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Ed didn’t want to use Fiona when the headline mentioned ‘flat’.

darwin-t on June 30, 2011 at 9:39 AM

LOL!..Good point!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Unexpected flat numbers…
/s

Khun Joe on June 30, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Expectedly…unexpected…

SPGuy on June 30, 2011 at 9:42 AM

I guess the Stormtroopers now have a job hunting down Mark Halperin!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Ok..What happened to the Redhead Lady on the cell phone?!?..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Cell service was cut off.

Tim Zank on June 30, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Ok..What happened to the Redhead Lady on the cell phone?!?..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

I heard Fiona got a job with a charter jet company as a corporate in-flight coordinator. No?

Fallon on June 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM

She will, unexpectedly, be back next month.

Dingbat63 on June 30, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Tim Zank on June 30, 2011 at 9:44 AM

LoL!..But that cell phone had a heck of a battery to last as long as it did!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Fallon on June 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM

LoL!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Lol DS @9:43

cmsinaz on June 30, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Rejoice!! Welcome to Recovery SummerII !!

Call off the election, Obama has 4 more!!

cartooner on June 30, 2011 at 9:57 AM

That’s some lame spin. Coach better go to the bullpen. This batch of media stooges has exceeded its pitch count.

forest on June 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Ok..What happened to the Redhead Lady on the cell phone?!?..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

No longer eligible for unemployment

ConservativePartyNow on June 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

cmsinaz on June 30, 2011 at 9:54 AM

..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Ed write:

Perhaps if the AP and Reuters used actual data rather than listen to White House shills on economics, they wouldn’t have to use “unexpectedly” in their reports so often.

Or perhaps they could simply start paying attention to those economists who use actual data – frankly, aside from major shifts in the primary trends and some pretty rare outliers, nobody should be caught by surprise by the seasonally-adjusted new jobless claim numbers.

ironman on June 30, 2011 at 10:05 AM

No longer eligible for unemployment

ConservativePartyNow on June 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

and thereby she is no longer considered unemployed.

darwin-t on June 30, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Kloppenberg’s job prospects should sharply increase sometime around Halloween.

viking01 on June 30, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Weekly jobless claims remain flat…

…because McDonalds isn’t hiring.

Akzed on June 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Hey, I saw a Help Wanted sign up at Dunkin Donuts!

There is hope………but little change.

pilamaye on June 30, 2011 at 10:13 AM

No, the 375K level does not signal sustainable job growth, and the 400K level doesn’t signal job-market stability, either.

Welcome to the new normal. Obama said he was bringing Change!

hawksruleva on June 30, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Why should Reuters or the AP worry about using data, Ed when they can just make sh!t up?

catmman on June 30, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Ed didn’t want to use Fiona when the headline mentioned ‘flat’.

darwin-t on June 30, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Darwin FTW (you do know Ed’s going to have to dodge frying pans tonight, don’t you?)

Steve Eggleston on June 30, 2011 at 10:38 AM

It’s all Bush’s fault.

And those guys who fly around in corporate jets.

They’re all destroying the economy, I tells ya!

/impersonation of some of my leftist acquaintances

UltimateBob on June 30, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Well add one more to the unexpected unemployment rate..MSNBC has suspended Mark Halperin indefinitely!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Of course the economic results are “unexpected”. After all, the progressives have assured us that “they’ll get it right, this time!”

Yeah. Just like all the times before.

GarandFan on June 30, 2011 at 10:59 AM

And Drudge links to New York Post that says Mrs Weiner is taking time off from being Hillary’s gopher.

Dingbat63 on June 30, 2011 at 11:17 AM

What happened to the Redhead Lady on the cell phone?

The photo depicts a completely new batch of unemployed people, which is what is really happening.

Emperor Norton on June 30, 2011 at 11:21 AM

We know who this is…
Oil Fat Cats with Corporate Jets…
Vote for Obama!

Haiku Guy on June 30, 2011 at 11:39 AM

After several months of being unemployed, I am happy to say I have a job again. Albeit, a prep cook job with a degree in architecture, I am not complaining. Actually, I am proud to work again.

carbon_footprint on June 30, 2011 at 11:45 AM

carbon_footprint on June 30, 2011 at 11:45 AM

That is great news..I know you feel much better!..:)

Dire Straits on June 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

test

stenwin77 on June 30, 2011 at 3:45 PM