Economists’ predictions were a bit off this week pertaining to the number of applications filed for unemployment benefits, according to Shobhana Chandra in Bloomberg. Forty-eight economists surveyed predicted 290,000 jobless claims for the week ending January 10. But the actual count was 316,000, the most since early September. Is this a cause for concern? In and of itself, it sounds shocking. But it is difficult to predict the whole employment situation based on one week of jobless claims (not to mention, economists have been wrong before). According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the 4-week moving average is 298,000 and probably reflects a more accurate picture of how the economy is doing. In fact, when looking at the Federal Reserve chart, in 2012 and 2013, jobless claims peaked in January during both years after being relatively low the December prior. Even though these numbers are seasonally adjusted, economist Brian Jones points out that accuracy is difficult due to seasonal layoffs that occur after the holidays.
Thus, the more important numbers will be the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate for January 2015.