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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Edge Up
by Sandy Batten  May 30, 2019

The labor market remains historically quite robust. Initial claims for unemployment insurance edged up 3,000 to 215,000 in week ended May 25, but remain around the lowest level in nearly six decades. The latest reading was in line with the 214,000 expected by the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 216,750 from 220,500 in the previous week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell 26,000 to 1.657 million in the week ending May 18. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.672 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at the record low of 1.2%, where it's been for twelve months. The series dates back to 1970.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. In the week ending May 11, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.27%), Nebraska (0.33%), Florida (0.40%), North Carolina (0.43%) and Indiana (0.44%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.58%), Connecticut (1.73%), New Jersey (1.92%), California (2.02%), and Alaska (2.24%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 0.92% in Texas, 1.22% in New York and 1.55% in Illinois. 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 in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 05/25/19 05/18/19 05/11/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 215 212 212 -2.7 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,657 1,683 -4.8 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(May 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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