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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Ease
by Tom Moeller  February 22, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 222,000 (-10.9% y/y) during the week ended February 17 from 229,000 in the prior week, revised from 230,000. Expectations had been for 230,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average eased to 226,000, the lowest level since early-1973.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for February nonfarm payrolls. There was a 6,000 increase (2.8%) versus the January 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.

In the week ended February 10, continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 1.875 million (-9.2% y/y) from 1.948 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.927 million.

The insured rate of unemployment slipped to 1.3%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended February 3, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.54%), North Carolina (0.58%), Georgia (0.73%), Virginia (0.75%), Tennessee (0.78%) and Indiana (0.81%). Near the high end were Connecticut (3.02%), New Jersey (3.00%), Montana (2.82%), Rhode Island (2.72%), Pennsylvania (2.73%) and California (2.44%). 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) 02/17/18 02/10/18 02/03/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 222 229 223 -10.9 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,875 1,948 -9.2 1,962 2,135 2,266
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.3 1.4

1.5
(Feb. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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