Thursday, June 25, 2009

Weekly Claims and Weekly Noise

Weekly initial unemployment claims were just released and they offer a good lesson when it comes to economic statistics - don't extrapolate too much from any one data point. If you'll recall, last week all of the green shooters were celebrating the news that the number of people collecting unemployment plunged by 148,000 for the week, the largest decline since November 2001. I raised the overlooked question as to whether this decline could be attributed to people going back to work or people having exhausted their benefits. It was also odd that the weekly number of initial claims had remained above 600,000 if the employment situation had truly improved so dramatically (link to last week's post).

Fast forward to 15 minutes ago, and we find that the latest weekly claims figure shows an increase of 15,000 to 627,000. Also, last week's initial figure was revised higher from 608,000 to 612,000. Furthermore, the number of people collecting unemployment insurance jumped by 29,000. Clearly, there is no sign of employment improvement in this picture. Let's see how the green shooters try to spin this one.

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