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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Ease
by Tom Moeller  August 23, 2018

The job market remains firm. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 210,000 during the week ended August 18 from an unrevised 212,000 the week earlier. It was the lowest reading in five weeks. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 initial claims. The four-week moving average edged lower to 213,750.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey period for August nonfarm payrolls and there was a decline of 7,000 (-3.2%) from the July period. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

In the week ending August 11, continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased to 1.727 million from 1.729 million, revised from 1.721 million. The four-week moving average of claimants fell to 1.736 million, the lowest level since late-June.

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

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ended August 4, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.26%), Nebraska (0.43%), Indiana (0.45%), North Carolina (0.49%) and North Dakota (0.49%). The highest rates were in New Jersey (2.47%), Connecticut (2.24%), Pennsylvania (2.03%), Alaska (1.88%) and California (1.85%). Amongst other large states, the rate was 1.55% in Massachusetts, 1.47% in New York, 1.02% in Texas, 0.88% in Ohio and 0.54% 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.

Stark Decline in Labor Force Participation for Men 25-54 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 08/18/18 08/11/18 08/04/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 210 212 214 -11.4 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,727 1,729 -11.4 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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