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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Rise
by Tom Moeller  March 23, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to 258,000 (-3.0% y/y) during the week ended March 18 from 243,000 in the prior week, revised from 241,000. The latest level was the highest in seven weeks. Expectations had been for 240,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of 240,000 compared to 239,000 in the prior week.

The latest level of initial claims covers the survey period for March payroll employment. Claims rose 4,000 (1.6%) from the February survey period. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended March 11 declined to 2.000 million (-8.7% y/y) from 2.039 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 2.027 million. Continuing claims have been near the June 2000 low for several months.

The insured rate of unemployment eased to 1.4% from 1.5%.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended March 4, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.51%), North Carolina (0.60%), Georgia (0.73%), South Carolina (0.76%), Nebraska (0.78%) and Virginia (0.80%). The highest rates were found in California (2.67%), Montana (2.75%), Rhode Island (2.80%), Connecticut (2.91%), New Jersey (3.01%) and Alaska (4.11%). 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 Forecast Survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 03/18/17 03/11/17 03/04/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 258 243 249 -3.0 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,000 2,039 -8.7 2,134 2,268 2,597
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.5

(Mar. 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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