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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Unexpectedly Rebound to Six-Week High
by Tom Moeller  February 26, 2015

Initial unemployment insurance claims increased to 313,000 during the week ended February 21 from 282,000 in the prior week, revised from 283,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims notched up to 294,500, the highest level in four weeks. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 289,000 claims in the latest week. During the last ten years there has been a 76% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended February 21 declined to 2.401 million following a rebound to 2.422 million in the prior week, revised from 2.425 million. The four-week moving average ticked up to 2.399 million but still roughly equaled the earlier low.

The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.8% for the seventh straight week.

By state, in the week ended February 7 the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Florida (0.90%), South Carolina (1.07%), Virginia (1.09%), Louisiana (1.14%), Nebraska (1.17%) and Texas (1.31%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (2.65%), Maine (2.64%), California (2.95%), Massachusetts (3.20%), Pennsylvania (3.25%) and Connecticut (3.43%). These data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database and they are summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states are in REGIONW. The expectations figure is from the Action Economics survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Lessons for Forecasting Unemployment in the U.S.: Use Flow Rates, Mind the Trend from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 02/21/15 02/14/15 02/07/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 313 282 304 -10.8 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,401 2,422 -18.4 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.8 1.8 2.2
2.0 2.3 2.6
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