Thursday, September 3, 2020

Initial and continuing claims: very slow “less worse” progress continues

 - by New Deal democrat

The continued good news in this morning’s jobless claims report is that the trend of “less worse” news is intact. But the improvement has slowed dramatically, and is still at a level of about 150,000 higher than the worst weekly levels of the Great Recession.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, new jobless claims rose (slightly) by 7,591 from their pandemic low last week to 833,352. After seasonal adjustment (which is far less important than usual at this time), claims declined by 130,000 to 881,000, their “best” reading since the pandemic began. The 4 week moving average also declined to a new pandemic low of 991,750, its first reading under 1 million:

Continuing claims, on both an un-adjusted and seasonally adjusted basis also continued to decline to new pandemic lows, by 765,644 to 13,104,366, and by 1,238,000 to 13,254,000 respectively:

Continuing claims have fallen by almost half from their peaks in early May.

So, “good” (or “continuing less worse”) news on the unemployment claims front, but still progressing at such a slow pace that, if the trend were to continue, it would take another 6 months or more to get back to a “normal” pace. And I doubt very much that the trend is going to continue at the rate it has in the past 4 months.

Tomorrow is the jobs report for August. Whether there has been any meaningful improvement in the unemployment rate, and whether the pace of rebounding job gains has slowed further - or worse, reversed - are going to be the big issues.