2015 Economic Calendar
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Jobless Claims  
Released On 2/26/2015 8:30:00 AM For wk2/21, 2015
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
New Claims - Level283 K282 K290 K279 K to 300 K313 K
4-week Moving Average - Level283.25 K283.00 K294.50 K
New Claims - Change-21 K-22 K31 K

Initial jobless claims surged unexpectedly in the February 21 week, up 31,000 to a 313,000 level that is far outside the Econoday consensus (279,000 to 300,000). The 4-week average is up 11,500 to 294,500 but is still more than 10,000 below a month ago in a comparison that, despite the latest week's surge, still points to improvement for the labor market.

Data on continuing claims, which are reported with a 1-week lag, are mixed. Continuing claims for the February 14 week fell 21,000 to 2.401 million but the 4-week average rose 2,000 to 2.399 million. The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at a recovery low of 1.8 percent.

The impact of the disappointment for initial claims is likely to be mitigated by a couple of factors: the February 21 week was a week shortened by Presidents' Day, a factor that makes for outsized adjustments to the data, and the prior week, the February 14 week, not the latest week, was the sample week for the monthly employment report.

Consensus Outlook
Initial jobless claims fell a sizable 21,000 in the February 14 week to a slightly lower-than-expected 283,000, nearly reversing a 25,000 spike in the prior week. Volatility in weekly data puts importance on the 4-week average which was down for a 4th straight week, 6,500 lower to 283,250 for the lowest level since early November. Importantly, the February 14th week was the sample week for the monthly employment report and comparisons with the January sample week show significant improvement, down 26,000 for the level itself and down a very sizable 23,750 for the 4-week average.

New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time. An increasing (decreasing) trend suggests a deteriorating (improving) labor market. The four-week moving average of new claims smooths out weekly volatility.  Why Investors Care
Weekly series fluctuate more dramatically than monthly series even when the series are adjusted for seasonal variation. The 4-week moving average gives a better perspective on the underlying trend.
Data Source: Haver Analytics

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