Please consider the Unemployment Weekly Claims Report for March 25, 2010.

In the week ending March 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 442,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 456,000. The 4-week moving average was 453,750, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 464,750.

Unemployment Claims

The weekly claims numbers are volatile so it’s best to focus on the trend in the 4-week moving average.

4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims

The 4-week moving average is still near the peak results of the last two recessions. It’s important to note those are raw numbers, not population adjusted. Nonetheless, the numbers do indicate broad weakness.

4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims Since 2007

This was a good report in that claims have started to drop again, the first time since December 5, 2009. This is a step in the right direction, if it holds. On the other hand, to be consistent with an economy adding jobs, the number needs to get to the 400,000 level.

Also note that it takes 100,000+ jobs a month for unemployment to drop (barring changes in the participation rate).

At some point, employers will be as lean as they can get (and still stay in business). Yet, that does not mean businesses are about to go on a big hiring boom. Indeed, unless consumer spending picks up, they won’t.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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