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Marley DelDuchetto/MEDILL

Weekly changes for new claims are extremely volatile. 


New claims for unemployment rise

by Marley DelDuchetto
Oct 04, 2012


The number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 to 367,000 in the week ended Sept. 29, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. That was smaller than the 370,000 new claims economists surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting.

 

 However, weekly unemployment numbers are considered very unstable. “You can get a lot of volatility week to week so we don’t read too much into the weekly numbers,” confirmed Sara Watt, an economist with Wells Fargo.

Many economists prefer to look at the four-week moving average. That number totaled 375,000 claims and remained unchanged from the previous week, according to the Labor Department. The four-week moving average at this time last year was 8.1 percent higher at 408,250.

In an interview Thursday, Watt said, “The fact that we average around 375,000 shows that we’re seeing [some] gain but really not at a pace that is hammering away at the amount of unemployed that we have.”

The seasonally adjusted number of people continuing to collect unemployment benefits stood at 3.3 million in the week ended Sept. 22, steady with the week prior.

States reported that 2.14 million people were collecting emergency unemployment benefits in the week ended Sept. 15, a slight decline from the previous week. But that number was almost 30 percent lower than the same week in 2011.

On an unadjusted basis, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits totaled 5.1 million for the week ended Sept. 15, a decrease of 1.7 percent from the week prior. The number of people claiming benefits was down 25.8 percent from the comparable week in 2011.

States with the highest unemployment rates were Alaska, California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Labor Department will release its September jobs report Friday. Wells Fargo has forecast job growth of 100,000 and a slight increase in the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent.