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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Zigzag Higher
by Gerald D. Cohen  August 29, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 4,000 to 215,000 (unchanged year-on-year) during the week ending August 24 from a slightly upwardly-revised 211,000 in the prior week. Two weeks ago, claims rose to 221,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 213,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, edged down to 214,500 from 215,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased 22,000 to 1.698 million (-1.1% y/y) in the week ending August 17, from a slightly upwardly-revised 1.676 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants edged down to 1.697 million from 1.698 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 August 10, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.26%), Nebraska (0.40%), Indiana (0.44%), Utah (0.44%), and North Carolina (0.47%). The highest rates were in California (1.72%), Rhode Island (1.77%), Pennsylvania (1.94%), Connecticut (2.18%), and New Jersey (2.38%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above, the rate was 1.02% in Texas, 0.49% in Florida, and 1.41% 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) 08/24/19 08/17/19 08/10/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 215 211 221 0.0 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,698 1,676 -1.1 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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