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Initial Jobless Claims

  • Importance (A-F): This release merits a C+.
  • Source: The Employment and Training Administration of the Department of Labor.
  • Release Time: 8:30 ET each Thursday (data for week ended prior Saturday).
  • Raw Data Available at: www.dol.gov

Initial jobless claims measure the number of filings for state jobless benefits. This report provides a timely, but often misleading, indicator of the direction of the economy, with increases (decreases) in claims potential signalling slowing (accelerating) job growth. On a week-to-week basis, claims are quite volatile, and many analysts therefore track a four week moving average to get a better sense of the underlying trend. It typically takes a sustained move of at least 30K in claims to signal a meaningful change in job growth.

There are two other statistics in this report -- the number of people receiving state benefits and the insured unemployment rate; neither is watched closely by the market. Some analysts track the number of people receiving state benefits from month to month as a guide for job growth, though this series has a poor track record in predicting the monthly employment report. The insured unemployment rate changes little on a weekly basis and is never a factor for the market.

unemployment claims
Initial jobless claims

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