Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hurricane-adjusted initial claims for the week of September 16: 237,000

 - by New Deal democrat

I am repeating an exercise I undertook in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy disrupted the initial claims data: estimating what the initial jobless claims would have been, but for the hurricanes.

In 2012 I created that adjustment by backing out the affected states (NY and NJ) from the non-seasonally adjusted data.  That gave me the number of initial claims filed in the other 48 states.  I compared that with the same metric one year earlier, and multiplied by the seasonal adjustment.

That gave me the number if the affected states had the same relative number of claims during the given week, as all of the unaffected states.  In 2012, it showed that Sandy was not masking any underlying weakness in the economy.

I backed out Texas starting 2 weeks ago, and also Florida beginning last week.

The state by state data is released with a one week delay.  So what follows is the analysis for the week of September 16, the number for which was reported at 259,000 one week ago and revised upward today to 260,000.

Here is the table for the Week of September 17 in 2016 vs. September 16 this year:

Metric                              2016                   2017
Seasonally adjusted:       252,000              260,000
Adjustment for total:       1.23                   1.22
Not seasonally adjusted:  205,649             212,962 
Florida claims:                 7,603                 10,052
Texas claims:                   14,817               28,387                
NSA claims ex-TX+FL    183,229             174,523
TX+FL as % of total:       10.9%                   n/a
2017 w/ TX+FL adjustment:  n/a              193,546

In 2016 the weekly seasonal adjustment was 1.23. This year it was 1.22 Multiplying the non-seasonally adjusted total of 193,546 by 1.23 gives us 238,000. Multiplying by 1.22 gives us 236,000.

Thus the hurricane-adjusted initial jobless claims number for the week of September 16, 2017 is 237,000.

The previous adjustment for Sept. 2 was  239,000.
Sept. 9 was 229,000.
The average of the three hurricane adjusted weeks so far is 235,000.

The underlying national trend in initial jobless claims remains very positive.