# U.S Unemployment Time-Series Modelling (Part 1)

One of the many benefits of improving economic forecasts is being able to trade releases with better information through forex and stocks.  Certain sites such as Forexfactory provide a forecast parameter and I was able to play around and figure out some just use standard ARIMA models.  In Part 1, I will show how to estimate unemployment rate log changes and Part 2, I will implement this through a modified BP neural network (if i can get it to work...).  I will be benchmarking my residuals with a standard ARIMA model along with an exogenous regressor (initial claims).  The data was obtained from the Bloomberg terminals and both time-series are seasonally adjusted.

Firstly, I will introduce our extra regressor.  U.S Unemployment Initial claims act as a good leading predictor for monthly unemployment rate releases.  See below plot for the last 30 years

Using a cross correlation plot of % changes since this creates a stationary process, we can see which lag has the most significant correlation:

From this we can pick out Lag 3 as being the most significant and will use that in our model.  Now we can go ahead and form/estimate our model.  A Non-seasonal ARIMA model is a popular time-series forecasting technique used by analysts.  In functional notation it can be denoted by ARIMA(p, d, q) where p is the number of Autoregressive lag, d is the differencing lag and q is the moving average lag.  In general, the ARIMA model can be adjusted as such:

where  is the lag operator,  is the  polynomial of Autoregressive lag,  is the  differencing terms and  is the  polynomial terms of Moving average lag.

Since my data is represented as % changes, our time-series can be assumed to be stabilized and stationary (ADF Test rejected  at ), thus .  I now need to find the appropriate  and  terms.  Using the Box-Jenkins methodology, I will plot the Sample ACF and PACF to identify our lagged terms:

Inspecting the SACF, we can see that the Lagged values are mostly significant between 2 and 10.  Without significant drop offs indicating towards an Autoregressive model.  The PACF indicate that the significant lags drop off after 5 in the time-series.  Thus, any significant lag after that in the SACF plots can be explained through time-dependence in previous lags such as .  Our moving average model cannot be directly determined through this plot due to no single sharp rise.  However, the eventual decay to zero after a few lags signal that there is a moving average component in the time-series.  We can impose an upper bound on  (determined from last few significant lag in SACF) such that we create  ARIMA models with  moving average lags and evaluate its performance with Akaike information criterion (AIC).  Below is the Matlab code on how to do that, I sampled monthly initial claims and Rate from 1984 to 2014.  Note that  is a presample data, I'm not 100% sure what it is other than using it do begin the estimation process for parameters.  This term is just the last 3 (arima model  AR order) returns from Unemployment rate.   is our claims in this case.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 aic = []; n = numel(Y); for q=0:8 mdl = arima(3,0,q); [e c ll] = estimate(mdl,Y, 'X', X, 'Y0', Y0); k = 3+q+2; aic = [aic; aicbic(ll,k)+(2*k*(k+1))/(n-k-1)]; end

Plotting the AICc for each model, we can conclude that five moving average term is the best fitted model for this sample data set.  AIC is a goodness of fit measure for predictive, usually regression, models.  It can be defined as

where  is the log likelihood of the model and  is the number of parameters.  The AIC trades off likelihood of an estimated parameter () with the complexity of a model that may have high variance () (such as neural networks).  For a finite sample size we will use AICc which accounts for the sample size and app.  In our case, we do not need to use AICc as we have a relatively large sample size.

Our AIC can be calculated with aicbic function in matlab where ll is our log likelihood and  where 2 is constant and our initials claims regressor.  Below is the AIC plot:

Therefore our final model is an ARIMAX model with .  Here is a fitted plot of our original data set along with a plot of the model residuals: