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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Touch 1973 Low
by Tom Moeller  May 18, 2017

Initial unemployment insurance applications fell to 232,000 during the week ended May 13 from an unrevised 236,000 in the prior week. It was the lowest level of claims since July 1973. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey had called for 240,000 claims. The four-week moving average declined to 241,000.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for May nonfarm payrolls. Claims declined 11,000 (-4.5%) from the April period. 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 to 1.898 million (-12.0% y/y) in the week ended May 6 from 1.920 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants fell to 1.946 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 29, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.36%), Nebraska (0.43%), North Carolina (0.50%), Florida (0.53%), Tennessee (0.61%) and Georgia (0.65%). The highest rates were found in Alaska (3.45%), New Jersey (2.31%), California (2.22%), Connecticut (2.15%), Illinois (1.90%) and Massachusetts (1.80%). 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) 05/13/17 05/06/17 04/29/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 232 236 238 -16.2 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,898 1,920 -12.0 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.4

1.6
(May 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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