I did end up writing a program to download and scrape DOL unemployment press releases. I have the tables sitting on my hard drive, and I am going to get to charting & presentation at some point.
However, I did happen to take a look at initial unemployment claims for week ending July 14.
Recall that the previous report said:
In the week ending July 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 350,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 376,000.
This one says:
In the week ending July 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 386,000, an increase of 34,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 352,000.
So, actually the decrease for the week ending July 7, was 24,000, not 26,000. I think the odds are better than 50-50 (based on nothing other than gut feeling), that the report for the week ending July 21 will show an upward revision for the July 14 figure, meaning the actual increase in initial unemployment claims for 7/15–7/21 will be higher the 34,000.
Now, I do not have any problems with seasonal adjustment or revisions. They are separate concepts. Seasonal adjustment attempts to control for natural week-by-week variability so you can compare one week's numbers with others. Revisions, I assume, are based on the data acquisition and processing procedures.
I do, however, get the impression that drops in unemployment claims get more play in the media as signs of recovery whereas increases get sort of ho-hum treatment.
Let's look at the unadjusted numbers for the last few years for the same period:
2009 06/27/2009 563,387 07/04/2009 585,963 07/11/2009 677,038 2010 07/03/2010 470,366 07/10/2010 515,991 07/17/2010 502,065 2011 07/02/2011 425,640 07/09/2011 473,963 07/16/2011 470,086
To put things in context, that number, for week ending July 14, 2012 was 452,960. So, there is an improvement over the heyday of the crisis. Keep in mind, however, the unadjusted number of initial unemployment claims for week ending July 15, 2006 was 377,115 and for week ending July 22, 2006 was 288,875.