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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Rise
by Tom Moeller  May 24, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance claims increased to 234,000 (-1.3% y/y) during the week ended May 19 following an increase to 223,000 during the prior week, revised from 222,000. Expectations were for 220,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average edged higher to 219,750. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of initial claims and the month-to-month change in nonfarm payroll employment.

In the week ending May 12, continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 1.741 million (-10.0% y/y) from a revised 1.712 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.752 million from 1.775 million. Both continuing claims and their four-week average remained at their lowest level since December 1973.

The insured rate of unemployment held steady at the record low of 1.2%, down from the 5.0% high late in June 2009.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended May 5, the lowest rates of insured unemployment were South Dakota (0.29%), Nebraska (0.37%), North Carolina (0.44%), Florida (0.45%), Indiana (0.47%) and Tennessee (0.55%). The highest rates were in Illinois (1.57%), Pennsylvania (1.60%), Connecticut (1.94%), New Jersey (2.07%), California (1.94%) and Alaska (2.95%). 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) 05/19/18 05/12/18 05/05/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 234 223 211 -1.3 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,741 1,712 -10.0 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(May 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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