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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Increase, but Remain Near Expansion Low
by Tom Moeller  August 20, 2015

The job market continues to expand. First time claims for unemployment insurance rose to 277,000 (-7.9% y/y) during the week ended August 15 from 273,000 in the week earlier, initially reported as 274,000. The four-week moving average rose slightly from the expansion low to 271,500. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 270,000 initial claims in the latest week.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey period for August nonfarm payrolls and they rose 22,000 (8.6%) from the July 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 remained at 1.7%, near the lowest point since June 2000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased to 2.254 million (-10.5% y/y) from 2.278 million. The four-week moving average rose to 2.265 million, but has been moving sideways for two months.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Nebraska (0.75%), Virginia (0.84%), Florida (0.95%), Georgia (0.97%), Tennessee (1.05%) and Texas (1.64%) near the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (2.11%), West Virginia (2.13%), California (2.37%), Pennsylvania (2.59%), Connecticut (2.65%) and New Jersey (2.95%). 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) 08/15/15 08/08/15 08/01/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 277 273 269 -7.9 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,254 2,278 -10.5 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.7 1.7 1.9
2.0 2.3 2.6
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