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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Suggest Limited Layoffs
by Tom Moeller  April 23, 2015

The job market remains on a firm footing as evidenced by initial claims for unemployment insurance. Except for a brief period this winter, they have been hovering below 300,000 since August. Initial claims in the week ended April 18 nudged up to 295,000 (-10.6% y/y) from an unrevised 294,000 in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claims rose to 284,500, but remained near the lowest level since June 2000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 289,000 claims in the latest week.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for April nonfarm payrolls and compared to 293,000 during the March period. 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.

The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.7% in the week ended April 11, its lowest level since November 2000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 2.325 million (-13.6% y/y) in the latest week. The four-week moving average fell to 2.309 million, the lowest level since December 2000.

By state, in the week ended April 4 the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (0.56%), South Carolina (0.86%), Tennessee (0.96%), New Hampshire (1.12%), Alabama (1.24%) and Hawaii (1.34%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (2.27%), Nevada (2.33%), California (2.48%), Pennsylvania (2.63%), Rhode Island (2.72%) and Massachusetts (2.75%). 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.

Did Massachusetts Health-Care Reform Affect Prices? from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 04/18/15 04/11/15 04/04/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 295 294 282 -10.6 309 343 374
Continuing Clai0ms -- 2,325 2,275 -13.6 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.7 1.7 2.1
2.0 2.3 2.6
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