December 19, 2013

Initial Unemployment Claims (121913): 379K SA; Raw Claims UP 3.1% Over Comparable Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:31 am

Business Insider’s prediction is 332,000 seasonally adjusted claims.

I’ll look at details after excerpting the report.

Here it is — a very big “oops.” Make that a very big “uh-oh”:


In the week ending December 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 379,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week’s figure of 369,000. The 4-week moving average was 343,500, an increase of 13,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 330,250.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 414,002 in the week ending December 14, a decrease of 48,196 from the previous week. There were 401,429 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

I believe this is one of the first times, if not the first time, in several years that there has been a year-over-year increase in raw claims in a week not affected by storms or the timing of holidays.

Obamacare anyone???? Specifically, the No-Growth Obamacare Christmas yours truly feared may be coming to pass.

The seasonal adjustment factors are pretty comparable (109.6 for the week of 12/15/12 vs. 109.1 for 12/14/13).

Last week was partially (but only partially) explained away because it was the week after Thanksgiving, meaning that they was carryover from the two-day holiday. That excuse isn’t available this week. If anything, you could argue that the compressed Christmas shopping season should have made retailers and those who supply them reluctant to let people go — if business conditions were good. But they’re apparently not.


UPDATE: Zero Hedge says that “BLS Blames Holiday Volatility.” That’s BS from BLS.



  1. Going back to 2010 (and comparing that to the equivalent week in 2009), there have been 11 times raw claims exceeded the prior year. 8 of them have been this year, including 3 of the past 4 weeks. For the most part, they are attribuatble to holiday timings, storms, and the 17% Shutdown.

    The good news is that the 4-week totals, except for the last 4 weeks of November 2012 (combined effects of Sandy and Obama’s re-election), have been below the prior year’s equivalent. Assuming no revisions, the curent 4-week period ending 12/14 was 123,348 lower than last year’s equivalent 4-week period ending 12/15.

    Comment by steveegg — December 19, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  2. The last item Zero Hedge brought up deserves a critical look, and a critical question ahead of the 2014 elections. Does the bipartisan Party-In-Government value a “low” unemployment number or a high welfare count more? They do have the ability to drive the U-3 rate into the 5s by hook or by crook if they stop paying out extended unemployment benefits.

    Comment by steveegg — December 19, 2013 @ 9:19 am

  3. Speaking of “holiday volatility”, 4 states, out of 28 with more than 1,000 more initial claims the week ending 12/7, mentioned cuts in the trade industries, with 2 singling out retail trade. You should probably trademark “No-Growth Obamacare Christmas” before somebody steals it :-)

    Comment by steveegg — December 19, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  4. [...] of falling year-over-year claims, this year’s raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) claims were 3.1% higher than last year’s comparable week. That didn’t stop Chris Rugaber from the Associated [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — December 19, 2013 @ 11:44 am

  5. [...] be about 7.5 percent below last year, after a previous week during which year-over-year claims increased by 3.1 percent. It seems pretty likely that that the actual seasonally adjusted result will be [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — December 26, 2013 @ 7:50 am

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