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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Slip
by Tom Moeller  January 17, 2019

Initial claims for jobless insurance eased to 213,000 (-2.6% y/y) during the week ended January 12 from an unrevised 216,000 during the prior week. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 223,000 claims. The four-week moving average slipped to 220,750 from 221,750.

The latest reading of initial claims covers the survey period for December nonfarm payrolls. There was a 4,000 decline (-1.8%) from the November period. During the last ten years, there has been a 73% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased to 1.737 million (-10.1% y/y) in the week ended January 5 from 1.719 million the previous week. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose to 1.729 million from 1.721 million. It was the highest reading since mid-August of last year.

The insured unemployment rate held steady at 1.2% in the week ended January 5, after hitting a record low of 1.1% in November. The figure compares the number of people receiving benefits to the number covered by unemployment insurance.

Insured unemployment rates vary widely by state. During the week ending December 29, the lowest rates were in North Carolina (0.44%), Florida (0.44%), Virginia (0.63%) and Tennessee (0.67%). Higher rates were in Pennsylvania (2.24%), Massachusetts (2.28%), Connecticut (2.88%) and New Jersey (2.74%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment claims going back to 1967 are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database and 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) 01/12/19 01/05/19 12/29/18 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 213 216 233 -2.6 221 243 264
Continuing Claims -- 1,737 1,719 -10.1 1,763 1,964 2,143
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jan. 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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