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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Edge Down Further
by Carol Stone, CBE  September 20, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance applications decreased to 201,000 (-21.2% y/y) during the week ended September 15 from 204,000 in the prior week, which was unrevised. This was the smallest number of initial claims since November 15, 1969, when there were 197,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey again expected a rise to 210,000 applications. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 205,750. It is possible that claims were reduced somewhat because Hurricane Florence interrupted filing in the affected states, where Labor Department offices might have been closed or people couldn't get to them. If that is the case, a rebound might well follow.

In the week ending September 8, continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell 55,000 to 1.645 million (-16.3% y/y) from 1.700 million a week earlier, revised from 1.696 million. It was the lowest level since August 4, 1973, when there were 1.633 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.692 million.

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 September 1, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.19%), Nebraska (0.32%), North Dakota (0.36%), North Carolina (0.44%) and Indiana (0.46%). The highest rates were in California (1.64%), Alaska (1.59%), Pennsylvania (1.70%), Connecticut (1.87%) and New Jersey (2.38%). Among the largest states by population, besides California, the rate was 1.48% in New York, 0.92% in Texas and 0.49% 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) 09/15/18 09/08/18 09/01/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 201 204 205 -21.2 245 262 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,645 1,700 -16.3 1,961 2,135 2,266
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

1.4
(Sep 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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