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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Increase Slightly
by Tom Moeller  March 22, 2018

Initial applications for jobless insurance rose to 229,000 during the week ended March 17 from an unrevised 226,000 in the prior week. Claims remain near the lowest level since December 1969. Expectations had been for 225,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average edged up to 225,750.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for March nonfarm payrolls. There was a 9,000 increase (4.1%) versus the February 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

In the week ended March 10, continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined 3.0% to 1.828 million (-7.8% y/y). The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.881 million, the lowest level since January 1974.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at the record low of 1.3%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended March 3, the lowest rates of unemployment were found in Florida (0.49%), North Carolina (0.52%), Georgia (0.66%), Virginia (0.70%), Tennessee (0.71%) and Indiana (0.76%. The highest rates were in Massachusetts (2.49%), Rhode Island (2.56%), Montana (2.71%), New Jersey (2.81%), Connecticut (2.82%) and Alaska (3.75%). 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) 03/17/18 03/10/18 03/03/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 229 226 230 -11.7 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,828 1,885 -7.8 1,962 2,135 2,266
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.3 1.3

(Mar. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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