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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline
by Gerald D. Cohen  August 9, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance claims decreased to 213,000 during the week ended August 4 from a slightly upwardly revised 219,000 during the prior week. The Action Economics Forecast Survey called for a 220,000 reading. The four-week moving average of initial claims edged down to 214,250 near the 48-year low of 213,500 reached in May. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the month-on-month change in nonfarm payrolls.

In the week ending July 28, continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 1.755 million from the slightly upwardly revised 1.726 million a week earlier. The four-week moving average of claimants increased to 1.745 million from 1.742 million in the prior week.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at its record low of 1.2%, where it's been since early-May.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended July 21, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.29%), Nebraska (0.45%), Indiana (0.47%), North Carolina (0.49%) and North Dakota (0.52%). The highest rates were in New Jersey (2.53%), Connecticut (2.25%), Pennsylvania (2.02%), Rhode Island (1.94%) and Alaska (1.92%). Among the largest states by population the rate was 1.83% in California, 1.08% in Texas, 1.49% in New York, and 0.55% in Florida. 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) 08/04/18 07/28/18 07/21/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 213 219 217 -12.0 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,755 1,726 -10.2 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Aug 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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