Thursday, August 13, 2020

Initial and continuing claims: the most “less awful” so far

 - by New Deal democrat

This morning’s initial and continued jobless claims continue the trend of “less awful” numbers that resumed last week.

New jobless claims, which fell to under 1,000,000 for the first time on an un-adjusted basis last week, declined about 150,000 further to 831,856 (red in the graph below), and on an adjusted basis (blue) declined to 963,000, the first time since the pandemic that number was also under 1 million: 

Continuing claims, on both an un-adjusted (red), and seasonally adjusted (blue) basis, also made new pandemic lows under 16 million, at roughly 15.2 million and 15.5 million respectively:

All of these remain at far worse levels than even at their worst during the Great Recession, as shown below in the seasonally adjusted numbers (initial claims, dark blue; continuing claims, light blue):

On both an adjusted basis, initial claims peaked at roughly 650,000 during the Great Recession, while their non-adjusted peak came during January, when there is typically a big spike, at roughly 950,000. Continuing claims peaked at roughly 6.5 million on both an adjusted and unadjusted basis, so claims now are roughly 2.5 times that peak.

This is progress, so it’s “good” news, and a positive short leading indicator for the economy, but of course, as I have said many times over the past few months, on an absolute basis it is really just “less awful.”