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Economy in Brief

Correction to Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims
by Tom Moeller  March 24, 2017

The Department of Labor has issued a correction to yesterday's annual revision to seasonally adjusted weekly unemployment claims. The department has detected an incorrect application of seasonal factors. Seasonally adjusted series in the WEEKLY database have been revised back to 2012 and the seasonal factors have been revised from 2012 to 2018. The following reflects these revisions.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to 261,000 (-3.7% y/y) during the week ended March 18, revised from yesterday's report of 258,000. Claims in the week of March 11 were revised to 246,000 from yesterday's report of 243,000. The latest level was the highest since mid-December. Expectations had been for 240,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of 247,000 compared to 243,000 in the prior week.

The latest level of initial claims covers the survey period for March payroll employment. Claims rose 14,000 (5.7%) 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 1.990 million (-8.7% y/y), revised from yesterday's 2.000 million. Continuing claims for the week ending March 4 were 2.025 million, revised from yesterday's report of 2.039 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 2.033 million from 2.048 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 261 246 252 -3.7 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,990 2,025 -8.7 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.5

(Mar. 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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