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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Return to Five-Week Low
by Tom Moeller  March 26, 2015

The labor market remains on a firm footing. Initial claims for jobless insurance in the week ended March 21 declined to 282,000 from an unrevised 291,000 during the prior week. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 297,000, the lowest level in one month. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 291,000 claims in the latest week. During the last ten years, there has been a 76% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended March 14 declined to 2.416 million, the lowest level in four weeks. The four-week moving average ticked up to 2.422 million and has trended sideways since January.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.8%, about where it's been since September.

By state, in the week ended March 7, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Florida (0.83%), North Carolina (0.99%), Georgia (1.01%), Louisiana (1.11%), Arizona (1.13%) and New Hampshire (1.28%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Nevada (2.48%), Michigan (2.51%), Maine (2.55%), California (2.82%), Massachusetts (3.12%) and New Jersey (3.65%). 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.

The Effect of Winter Weather on U.S. Economic Activity from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 03/21/15 03/14/15 03/07/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 282 291 290 -9.9 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,416 2,422 -14.1 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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