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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall to Fewest Since 1969
by Tom Moeller  September 6, 2018

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 203,000 (-31.2% y/y) during the week ended September 1 from an unrevised 213,000 during the prior week. It was the lowest level since December 1969. The Action Economics Forecast Survey called for 215,000 applications. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 209,500, also a 49-year low. 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 August 25, continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased to 1.707 million (-11.9% y/y from the slightly upwardly revised 1.710 million a week earlier. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.719 million, the lowest level since late-1973.

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 August 25, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.22%), Nebraska (0.35%), Indiana (0.44%), North Dakota (0.44%) and North Carolina (0.47%). The highest rates were in Rhode Island (1.93%), Pennsylvania (1.98%), Connecticut (2.25%) and New Jersey (2.47%). Among the largest states by population, the rate was 1.81% in California (this was also the fifth highest rate in the country), 1.00% in Texas, 1.51% in New York, and 0.52% 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) 09/01/18 08/25/18 08/18/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 203 213 210 -31.2 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,707 1,710 -11.9 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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