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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Rise Unexpectedly
by Tom Moeller  January 11, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance applications increased to 261,000 (0.4% y/y) during the week ended January 6 following an unrevised 250,000 claimant level in the week prior. Expectations had been for a decline to 245,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. It was the fourth consecutive weekly increase and was the highest level since the fourth week of September. The four-week moving average rose to 250,750, a three-month high. 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.

In the week ended December 30, continuing claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 1.867 million (-7.9% y/y) from 1.902 million in the week prior. The four-week moving average of claimants eased to 1.913 million, remaining near the lowest level since January 1974.

The insured unemployment rate slipped to the record low of 1.3%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended December 29, North Carolina (0.50%), Florida (0.53%), South Dakota (0.66%), Nebraska (0.67%), Virginia (0.69%) and Georgia (0.73%) were at the low end of the range. At the high end were California (2.10%), Pennsylvania (2.26%), Montana (2.29%), Connecticut (2.40%), New Jersey (2.46%) and Alaska (4.08%). 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) 1/06/18 12/30/17 12/23/17 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 261 250 247 0.4 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,867 1,902 -7.9 1,962 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.3 1.4

(Dec. 2016)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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