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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Unchanged; Four-Week Average Tracks Higher
by Gerald D. Cohen  November 21, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance remained at 227,000 (1.3% year-on-year) during the week ending November 16, while the previous week was revised slightly higher (was 225,000). The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 220,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 221,000, its highest level since June.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased 3,000 to 1.695 million (1.3% y/y) in the week ending November 9, from an upwardly-revised 1.692 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants rose to 1.693 million from 1.690 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at the record low 1.2% where, with the exception of two weeks this past September, 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 November 2, the lowest rates were in Nebraska (0.17%), South Dakota (0.23%), Florida (0.41%), Utah (0.44%), and North Carolina (0.44%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.53%), Connecticut (1.56%), California (1.65%), New Jersey (1.87%), and Alaska (2.32%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above the rate was 0.92% in Texas, and 1.20% in New York. These state data are not seasonally adjusted, thus Alaska has particularly large seasonal swings in insured rates of unemployment.

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) 11/16/19 11/09/19 11/02/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 227 227 211 1.3 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,695 1,692 1.3 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

1.2
(Nov 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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