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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Claims Ease
by Tom Moeller  November 8, 2018

Initial claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 214,000 (-11.6% y/y) during the week ended November 3 from 215,000 in the previous week, revised from 214,000. It was the lowest level in 45 years. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims of 213,750 stands above the low of 206,000 in mid-September. During the last ten years, there has been an 80% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 1.623 million (-15.1% y/y) in the week ending October 27 from 1.631 million in the prior week. This is the lowest level of continuing claims since July 1973. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.633 million from 1.641 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at the record low of 1.1% for a third week. This level compared to the recession high of 5.0% in June 2009.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending October 20, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.20%), North Dakota (0.31%), Nebraska (0.33%), Indiana (0.46%) and Florida (0.43%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.45%), Connecticut (1.55%), California (1.66%), New Jersey (1.87%) and Alaska (2.15%). Among the other largest states by population, the rates were 1.16% in New York, 1.21% in Illinois and 0.87% in Texas. 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) 11/03/18 10/27/18 10/20/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 214 215 216 -11.6 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,623 1,631 -15.1 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.1 1.1

(Oct. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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