Jul 24, 2020 - Economy & Business

The seasonal effect on traditional unemployment claims

Data: Department of Labor via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Department of Labor via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Lots of media companies reported that initial jobless claims rose for the first time in 15 weeks last week, but that is only true when looking at the seasonally adjusted data.

Why it matters: Seasonal adjustment has significantly altered the number of claims, with reports showing more than 300,000 additional initial jobless claims during weeks in May.

  • The difference between seasonally adjusted and unadjusted continuing claims was around 2 million for every week in May.

By the numbers: Unadjusted numbers showed an increase in initial claims for the week of July 11, with claims rising to 1.5 million from 1.4 million the previous week.

  • The number of claims, not adjusted, fell last week to 1.4 million.

Of note: The total unadjusted number of people receiving unemployment benefits through all state and federal programs was 31.8 million for the week ending July 4. That represents about 1 in 5 people in the workforce.

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