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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline
by Tom Moeller  November 7, 2019

Initial applications for unemployment insurance fell to 211,000 (-4.3% y/y) during the week ended November 2 from 219,000 in the prior week, revised from 218,000. It was the lowest number of claims in four weeks. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims edged higher to 215,250 from 215,000. During the last 20 years, there has been a 68% correlation between the number of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 1.689 million during the week ended October 26 from 1.692 million in the week prior, revised from 1.690 million. The four-week moving average of claimants held steady at 1.687 million.

In the week ending October 26, the insured rate of unemployment of 1.2% was near the record low of 1.1% for the fifth straight week. Data on the insured unemployment rate dates back to 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending October 19, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.21%), Nebraska (0.21%), North Dakota (0.35%), Utah (0.41%) and New Hampshire (0.41%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.48%), Connecticut (1.55%), California (1.63%), New Jersey (1.82%), and Alaska (2.04%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 0.42% in Florida, 0.92% in Texas and 1.1% 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) 11/02/19 10/26/19 10/19/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 211 219 213 -4.3 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,689 1,692 2.0 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Oct 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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