Have US Initial Unemployment Claims Bottomed?

New initial unemployment claims fell slightly for the week ending on January 16th from 316K to 309K. However, the four week moving average rose to 306.5K which is the highest level since the week ending on July 11th. Unemployment claims spent the second half of 2014 at relatively low historical levels so the small rise so far is not unexpected or a cause for concern. However, if unemployment claims were to substantially increase from here then that could be a signal that a recession is imminent (or already underway). The blue bars in the second chart identify past recession periods in the US. In each recession over the past several decades, the economy has experienced a significant increase in unemployment claims. Something to continue to monitor…

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