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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Plumb a New Low
by Tom Moeller  April 30, 2015

The labor market continues to improve as evidenced by the downward trend in initial unemployment insurance claims. In the week ended April 25, they hit the lowest level since April 2000. Initial claims declined to 262,000 (-22.3% y/y) after 296,000 during the prior week, revised from 295,000. The four-week moving average of claims slipped to 283,750. 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 initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.7% in the week ended April 18 for the fifth straight week, its lowest level since November 2000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 2.253 million (-17.9% y/y) in the latest week. The four-week moving average fell to 2.291 million, the lowest level since December 2000.

By state, in the week ended April 11 the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (0.53%), South Carolina (0.85%), Tennessee (0.96%), New Hampshire (1.07%), Alabama (1.23%) and Texas (1.48%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Nevada (2.29%), New York (2.34%), Massachusetts (2.54%), California (2.60%), Pennsylvania (2.64%) and New Jersey (3.14%). 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.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 04/25/15 04/18/15 04/11/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 262 296 295 -22.3 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,253 2,327 -17.9 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.7 1.7 2.1
(04/14)
2.0 2.3 2.6
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