Consistency, thy name is … the weekly initial jobless claims from the Department of Labor. Once again, the report shows a slight decline from last week’s figures. Once again, that slight decline comes courtesy of an upward revision in last week’s numbers, the 62nd time in 63 weeks that the revisions have gone in the same direction. And once again, that figure is 370,000 new claims:
In the week ending May 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 370,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 372,000. The 4-week moving average was 370,000, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 375,500.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the week ending May 12, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 12 was 3,260,000, a decrease of 29,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,289,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,271,500, a decrease of 17,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,288,750.
The weekly average declines come from the elimination of April’s spikes into the formula. We have returned to about the same consistent level of churn we saw in Q1 and 2011Q4, which doesn’t give any indication of improvement (or worsening) in the job market. Given the recent economic indicators, that comes as no shock, of course, and with Taxmageddon hanging over everyone’s head, we shouldn’t expect any breakthroughs in the floor soon, either.
Speaking of which, the key durable-goods report for April shows very little bounce from March’s worst-in-three-years report:
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, government data on Thursday showed, while demand for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose less than expected in April, raising concerns about the U.S. economic recovery. …
Demand for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose less than expected in April as companies scaled back plans to add machinery and the military ordered fewer aircraft, suggesting factory activity was losing momentum in the second quarter.
New orders for durable goods edged 0.2 percent higher last month, a minimal gain after a revised 3.7 percent drop in March, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.
Economists had forecast orders for durable goods, which range from toasters to aircraft, to increase 0.5 percent in April after a previously reported 3.9 percent fall in March.
Transportation helped boost the numbers. Without that sector, durable goods actually fell another 0.6% last month. For the 27th out of 28 months, inventories increased, this time by 0.3%, which hints at even lower factory activity in the near future. Unfilled orders dropped, which means the backlog got reduced, which also might hint at slower activity in the next couple of months.
All in all, it’s a rather pessimistic set of indicators, which means nothing much has really changed, just like the weekly initial jobless claims.