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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Increase to 217K
by Winnie Tapasanun  September 5, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the week ending August 31 increased 1,000 to 217,000 (3.3% y/y), a three-week high, from 216,000 in the prior week which was upwardly revised from 215,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, rose to 216,250 from 214,750.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell 39,000 to 1.662 million (-3.0% y/y) in the week ending August 24 from 1.701 million in the prior week, upwardly revised from 1.698 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.692 million from 1.698 million.

The insured rate of unemployment for the week ending August 24 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 17, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.25%), Nebraska (0.32%), Indiana (0.44%), North Dakota (0.44%), and Utah (0.44%). The highest rates were in California (1.80%), Rhode Island (1.80%), Pennsylvania (1.98%), Connecticut (2.19%), and New Jersey (2.39%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above, the rate was 1.02% in Texas, 0.51% in Florida, and 1.44% 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) 08/31/19 08/24/19 08/17/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 217 216 211 3.3 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,662 1,701 -3.0 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Sep 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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