This Week’s Initial Jobless Claims Report May Have Killed Any Possibility Of Recession

Earlier this week I calculated what initial jobless claims were likely to have been ex-Sandy. I can now calculate that number for the week ending December 1.

NY and NJ together were 60,888 of a total of 500,931, or 12.6% of the total of non-seasonally adjusted claims, which after seasonal adjustment were revised to 372,000. A year ago NY and NJ constituted 91.2% of all claims in the same week. Backing them out and calculating the total jobless claims number had the remaining 48 states constituted 90.7% (compared with October of this year) or 91.2% (compared with a year ago) of total claims gives us estimates of 360,000 and 358,000 respectively.

That makes the best estimate for what initial jobless claims would have been one week ago had Sandy not occurred, 359,000. The 4 week average would have been 372,000.

While I can’t calculate this week’s number, assuming the effects of Sandy have dissipated, yesterday’s report of 343,000 would lower the 4 week moving average to 362,000, a new post-recession low.

No recession has ever begun within 2 1/2 months of a new low in initial jobless claims. Unless we find out that there was a special “issue” with yesterday’s number, this, along with the likely new post-recession high in real retail sales for November also reported this morning, is strong evidence that while the economy is shambling along, it is not actually in recession.