Thursday, November 19, 2020

Jobless claims: the beginning of a pandemic reversal?


 - by New Deal democrat

This week’s new jobless claims rose from last week’s pandemic lows, while continued jobless claims again declined to new pandemic lows.

On a unadjusted basis, new jobless claims rose by 18,264 to 743,460. Seasonally adjusted claims rose by 31,000 to 742,000. The 4 week moving average, however, declined by 13,750 to 742,000. Here is the close up since the end of July (for comparison, remember that these numbers were in the range of 5 to 7 million at their worst in early April): 

Unadjusted continuing claims (which lag initial claims typically by a few weeks to several months) declined by 419,670 to 6,081,402. With seasonal adjustment they declined by 429,000 to 6,372,000, both new pandemic lows:

New jobless claims have declined about 88% (unadjusted) or 90% (seasonally adjusted)  from their March and April pandemic highs. But the seasonally adjusted numbers are still about 100,000 higher than their worst readings of the Great Recession:

Meanwhile, continued claims are about 71.5% (unadjusted) to 75% (seasonally adjusted) below their May pandemic highs:

After 7 months, at last both of these are slightly lower than their worst levels of the Great Recession (faint praise, I know).

Whether one week ago will mark an interim low, due to the pandemic spiraling out of control again in most of the country, or just noise in a continued very slow decline, is impossible to know. But I do suspect, if a reversal hasn’t already started to happen, it will within the next few weeks, especially as State governments are reluctantly placing renewed restrictions on social business activity.