Last week I promised I would repeat an exercise I first undertook in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy disrupted the initial claims data: estimating what the initial jobless claims would have been, but for the hurricane.
In 2012 I created that adjustment by backing out the affected states (NY and NJ) from the non-seasonally adjusted data. That gave me the number of initial claims filed in the other 48 states. I compared that with the same metric one year earlier, and multiplied by the seasonal adjustment.
What that does is give me the number if the affected states had the same relative number of claims during the given week, as all of the unaffected states. In 2012, it showed that Sandy was not masking any underlying weakness in the economy.
The state by state data is released with a one week delay. So what follows is the analysis for the week of September 2, the number for which was reported one week ago. This week I only had to back out Texas. Next week I will undoubtedly have to back out Florida as well.
Here is the table for the Week of September 3 in 2016 vs. September 2 this year:
Metric 2016 2017
Seasonally adjusted: 257,000 298,000
Adjustment for total: 1.18% 1.19%
Not seasonally adjusted: 217,715 250,621
Texas claims: 15,707 63,788
NSA claims ex-TX 202,008 186,833
TX as % of total: 7.2% n/a
2017 w/ TX adjustment: n/a 201,405
If we use the 2016 weekly seasonal adjustment of 1.18% for the adjusted 201,405 total, this gives us ~238,000.
If we use the 2017 weekly seasonal adjustment of 1.19% for the adjusted 201,405 total, this gives us ~240,000.
Thus the hurricane-adjusted initial jobless claims number for the week of September 2, 2017 is 239,000.
The underlying national trend in initial jobless claims remains very positive.