Initial Claims for the Week Ended Feb 03

Updated 08-Feb-07 08:44 ET


  • Initial claims rose 3K to 311K in the week of February 3.
  • Continued claims fell -54K to 2.490 mln in the week of Jan 27.

Key Factors

  • 4-week average edged higher to 308K from the 11 month low reached the prior week. 
  • Continued claims 4 week average is just over 100K above mid-May's 5 year low. 
  • Claims continue to reflect a tight, if not tighter, labor market.

Big Picture

  • Initial claims broke above the remarkably tight range held in the 4-week average (306K-318K) over the holiday period as the new year brought the lowest 4-week average in a year.  Continued claims showed a five year low in the 4-week average in mid May and now stands about 100K higher.  The continued low levels reflect the thin available labor supply which make a qualified hire difficult to find and less likely to be let go.  A good read on the labor market as net hiring runs at a slow/moderate historical pace. 

Category Feb 3 Jan 27 Jan 20 Jan 13 Jan 6
Initial Claims 311K 308 327 287 298
4-Wk Moving Avg 308 305 309 307 315
Continued Benefits 2490K 2544 2482 2486
4-Wk Moving Avg 2501 2481 2452 2462

Release Details

Initial Claims

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.