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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Fall
by Tom Moeller  August 8, 2019

Initial unemployment insurance claims declined to 209,000 (-3.5% y/y) during the week ended August 3 from 217,000 in the prior week, revised from 215,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 initial claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims edged higher to 212,250 and remained above the 50-year low of 201,500 reached in April. During the last twenty years, there has been a 69% correlation between the level of initial jobless claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased to 1.684 million (-3.9% y/y) in the week ending July 27 from an unrevised 1.699 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants slipped to 1.687 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at the record low 1.2%, where it has been since May 2018. Data on the insured unemployment rate go back to 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending July 20, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.28%), Indiana (0.44%), Utah (0.46%), North Carolina (0.48%) and Florida (0.49%). The highest rates were in California (1.82%), Rhode Island (1.85%), Pennsylvania (2.01%), Connecticut (2.16%) and New Jersey (2.42%). Amongst other large states the rate was 0.63% in Tennessee, 1.07% in Texas, 1.10% in Michigan and 1.42% in New York. 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) 08/03/19 07/27/19 07/20/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 209 217 207 -3.5 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,684 1,699 -3.9 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jul 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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