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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Ease
by Tom Moeller  May 11, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 236,000 during the week ended May 6 from an unrevised 238,000 in the prior week. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey had called for 245,000 claims. The four-week moving average edged slightly higher to 244,000, but remained down 9.8% y/y. During the last ten years, there has been a 72% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell sharply to 1.918 million (-11.4% y/y) in the week ended April 29 from 1.979 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants fell to 1.966 million, the lowest level since November 1988.

The insured unemployment rate held at 1.4%, the record low. These data begin January 2, 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended April 22, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.40%), Nebraska (0.46%), Florida (0.50%), North Carolina (0.51%), Tennessee (0.63%) and Georgia (0.66%). The highest rates were found in Alaska (3.38%), New Jersey (2.50%), California (2.33%), Connecticut (2.28%), Massachusetts (2.08%) and Illinois (1.96%). These 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) 05/06/17 04/29/17 04/22/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 236 238 257 -17.9 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,918 1,979 -11.0 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.4

(Apr 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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