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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Edge Lower
by Carol Stone  December 24, 2015

Initial claims for unemployment insurance were 267,000 (-4.6% y/y) in the week ending December 19, down from 272,000 the week before, which was revised from 271,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 270,000 filings. The four-week moving average rose modestly to 272,500, and remained near its 15-year low. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

In the week ending December 12, continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 2.195 million (-7.7% y/y), with marginal upward revisions to the two prior weeks. The four-week moving average edged higher to 2.211 million, and remained just above its 15-year low, 2.000 during May 2000.

The insured rate of unemployment eased to 1.6% from 1.7%, remaining near its cycle low.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. South Dakota remained the lowest at 0.60%, with Florida at 0.63%, Nebraska at 0.69%, North Carolina at 0.72%, and Virginia at 0.79%. At the high end of the range, Alaska had 4.23%, Puerto Rico 2.97%, West Virginia 2.76%, Pennsylvania 2.64% and New Jersey 2.63%. The state data are not seasonally adjusted and reported with a two-week lag versus the headline national figure for initial claims.

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) 12/19/15 12/12/15 12/05/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 267 272 282 -4.6 306 341 373
Continuing Claims -- 2,195 2,242 -7.7 2,606 2,980 3,312
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.7

(Dec. 2014)

2.0 2.3 2.6
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