The government of the United States releases two unemployment number sets, the weekly unemployment claims and the nonfarm payroll numbers monthly claims. Monthly claim numbers have more weight, but weekly claims give you tremendous information regularly. The unemployment claim number weekly measures the total number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time in the previous week. This excludes those who applied for benefits before of after the designated week. Numbers are usually released on Thursday at 8:30 in the morning, Eastern Time.

The total number of employment and unemployment are higher in some parts of the year compared to others. For example, January and February has usually higher unemployment rates because the cold in most areas in the country curtails work in agriculture, construction and other seasonal business. On the other hand, employment and unemployment rise every June when students enter the labor force to look for summer jobs.

The differences make it hard to determine whether month-to-month unemployment and employment changes are due to the economic changes or seasonal patterns. Looking at the weekly claim numbers can be difficult because of volatility. However, if you look at a 4-week moving average of the weekly claims, you can get a better picture of where unemployment is going in America.

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