Dollars and Jens
Thursday, November 30, 2006
In the week ending Nov. 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 357,000, an increase of 34,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 323,000. The 4-week moving average was 325,000, an increase of 7,250 from the previous week's revised average of 317,750.From today's Initial claims of unemployment report.
A lot of the economic data reported in the news are seasonally adjusted to help distinguish actual trends from normal annual variations; sometimes the seasonal adjustments can be substantial. In this case, far fewer unemployment claims were made last week than the week before — but not by as much as is to be expected for Thanksgiving week. The raw number dropped, but the seasonally adjusted number spiked upward.
It may be that there is finally a spate of unemployment that some of us have been expecting from the housing slowdown; if we keep getting 357,000, it's a bigger spate than was expected. Last year there was a bit of a spike Thanksgiving week, but not this bad. It's hard to know quite what to make of the number, but if we get a couple numbers in the 330s over the next couple weeks, the labor market has started to slow; I would even be willing to take a single such number as a sign that this week's number meant something. If it comes back to 315 or so next week, "anomaly" may be the way to bet.