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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Edge Back Higher
by Carol Stone, CBE  February 14, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance were 239,000 in the week ended February 9, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's 235,000, which was revised up by 1,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 225,000 claims this week. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 231,750, the largest amount since January 27, 2018.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased to 1.773 million in the week ended February 2 from 1.736 million the previous week. The four-week moving average of continuing claims increased to 1.750 million from 1.741 million in the prior week; the latest value is the highest since last May 12.

The insured unemployment rate – that is, continuing claims as a percent of covered employment – held steady at 1.2% in the week ended February 2.

Federal government workers are covered separately from the regular state-administered programs. In the latest week available for the federal programs, February 2, initial claims were 1,116, down from 6,669 the prior week, which was the last week of the government shutdown. The largest number of these initial claims during the shutdown was 25,419 in the January 12 week.

Insured unemployment rates in the state programs vary widely by state. These state data are not seasonally adjusted. During the week ending January 26, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.44%), North Carolina (0.52%), Tennessee (0.63%), Georgia (0.65%) and Virginia (0.66%). The highest rates were in Alaska (3.32%), New Jersey (2.81%), Rhode Island (2.61%), Connecticut (2.53%), and Montana (2.52%). Rates in other large-population states include California (2.14%), Texas (1.01%), New York (1.78%), Pennsylvania (2.31%) and Illinois (2.24%).

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) 02/09/19 02/02/19 01/26/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 239 235 253 2.1 221 244 262
Continuing Claims -- 1,773 1,736 -8.4 1,766 1,967 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jan. 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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