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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Rise Moderately; Still in Recent Low Range
by Carol Stone, CBE  August 15, 2019

Initial unemployment insurance claims rose to 220,000 (+3.3% y/y) during the week ended August 10 from 211,000 in the prior week, revised from 209,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 212,000 initial claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims increased to 213,750 from 212,750 the week before 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 increased to 1.726 million (-0.1% y/y) in the week ending August 3 from 1.687 million in the prior week, which was revised from 1.684 million. The four-week moving average of claimants rose to 1.697 million from 1.688 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 27, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.27%), Nebraska (0.41%), Indiana (0.44%), Utah (0.45%), and North Carolina (0.48%) . The highest rates were in California (1.78%), Rhode Island (1.83%), Pennsylvania (1.93%), Connecticut (2.13%) and New Jersey (2.40%). Amongst other large states the rate was 0.50% in Florida, 1.05% in Texas, 1.11% 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) 08/10/19 08/03/19 07/27/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 220 211 217 3.3 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,726 1,687 -0.1 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Aug 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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