Initial Jobless Claims

New jobless claims for the week of March 20th dropped 14,000 to 440,000, double the prediction. The prior week was revised 1,000 lower to 456,000.  The four-week moving average dropped to 453,750, its lowest level in more than a year and a half.  The average has shed almost 17,000 in March.

Long-Term Claims

Continuing claims fell to 4.648 million after the prior week was revised upwards to 4.702 million from 4.579 million, an addition of 123,000. Emergency claims, one of the government's long-term benefit programs, declined to 5.5584 million from 5.8880 million. Extended unemployment insurance benefit recipients dropped as well to 140,000 from 156,200.

The number of people on the unemployment rolls in the week of March 5th was 10.4004 million.  This would have been a drop of just over 200, 000 from the previous week but for the Labor Departments annual revisions which cover data back to 2005.  The revision added 127,000 people to the total who received benefits in the prior week of February 26th, bringing the total decline to 337,800. 

Extended benefits were not affected by the revision but emergency benefits rose by about 1,150 per week in January and February.  Continuing claims saw the largest increases from the revision. In the five weeks of January 29th to February 26th the revisions added an average of 189,200 to the continuing claims rolls and an average of 190,120 to the total benefits rolls. The actual total unemployment roll in those five weeks was 1.8% higher after the revision.

Joseph Trevisani

Chief Market Analyst, FX Solutions