Four week average of jobless claims makes all-time 55 year series low

Benchmark revisions, oh my! Four week average of jobless claims makes all-time 55 year series low

The DoL made revisions to the last five years of jobless claims, in particular revising the seasonal adjustments, and the differences are eye-popping.

Last week initial claims (blue) were reported at 202,000. With the revisions, they are now 171,000! This week they declined -5,000 from that revised figure to 166,000, tying the revised number from two weeks ago. The 4 week average (red) for last week, originally reported at 208,500, became 178,000 and declined a further -8,000 to 170,000 this week. On the other hand, continuing claims (gold, right scale), originally reported last week at 1,307,000, were revised to 1,506,000, and rose 17,000 this week to 1,523,000:

But that’s not the biggest story. Not only are the initial and 4-week averages pandemic lows, with the revisions initial claims last week is the lowest for the entire series going back almost 60 years with the exception of one week – November 30, 1968, which saw only 162,000 layoffs. The 4-week average was even better: this week’s number is the all-time series low, including all of the 1960s back to the series inception in 1966, as shown in the below graph which shows the current week’s numbers normed to 0:

And remember, the US population in the 1960s was only half of what it is now, so as a rate, this is by far the fewest % of layoffs in the population ever recorded. By the way, the revisions also indicate that layoffs were even lower than we thought – significantly below 200,000 per week – in 2018 and 2019.

For completeness’ sake, continuing claims were lower throughout the 1960s:

Is it any wonder that wages have been increasing as sharply as they have?