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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Near 1973 Low
by Tom Moeller  January 5, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell sharply in the final week of December to 235,000 from 263,000 in the week ended December 24, revised from 265,000. The latest level was the lowest since November 1973. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey called for 262,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims declined to 256,750 and has been fairly steady since September.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased to 2.112 million (-5.1% y/y) in the week of December 24 from 2.096 million. The four-week moving average of claimants increased to 2.067 million and was up slightly from the prior two months.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.5%, which is also the average since September. The record low of this 45-year-old series was 1.4% in the week ended November 5.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended December 17, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.52%), North Carolina (0.60%), Tennessee (0.67%), Nebraska (0.67%), Virginia (0.70%) and South Dakota (0.80%). The highest rates were found in Pennsylvania (2.24%), California (2.25%), Connecticut (2.31%), New Jersey (2.53%), Montana (2.66%) and Alaska (4.22%). The state 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 (SA, 000s) 12/31/16 12/24/16 12/17/16 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 235 263 275 -15.2 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,112 2,096 -5.1 -- 2,268 2,607
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.5

(Dec. 2015)

-- 1.7 2.0
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