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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline to 1969 Low
by Tom Moeller  April 4, 2019

The labor market remains strong. Initial unemployment insurance claims declined to 202,000 (-9.2% y/y) during the week ended March 30 from 212,000 in the prior week, revised from 211,000. It was the lowest level of claims since the first week of December 1969. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 213,500, the lowest point since October. During the last 20 years, there has been a 70% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell sharply to 1.717 million (-5.2% y/y) in the week ending March 23, from a little-revised 1.755 million. It was the lowest level since early-January. The four-week moving average of claimants eased to 1.743 million, a five-week low.

The insured unemployment rate held steady at the record low 1.2%.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending March 16, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.41%), North Carolina (0.47%), Tennessee (0.55%), Georgia (0.56%) and Virginia (0.59%). The highest rates were in Montana (2.40%), Rhode Island (2.45%), Connecticut (2.49%), New Jersey (2.62%), and Alaska (3.03%). Among other large states, the rate was 0.99% in Texas, 1.65% in New York, 2.25% in Pennsylvania and 2.27% in California. These state data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment claims going back to 1967 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) 03/30/19 03/23/19 03/16/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 202 212 216 -9.2 220 244 262
Continuing Claims -- 1,717 1,755 -5.2 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Mar. 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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