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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Ease by 18,000
by Carol Stone, CBE  December 19, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 18,000 in the week ended December 14 to 234,000 (+6.4% y/y) from the prior week's 252,000, which was unrevised. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a somewhat larger decline to 222,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 225,500 from 224,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended December 7 rose 51,000 to 1.722 million (+1.3% y/y). The November 30 figure was revised up 4,000 to 1.671 million. The four-week moving average of claimants edged upward to 1.684 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% in the week of December 7. Except for two weeks in September and one week in mid-November, when the rate was at 1.1%, it has been 1.2% since May 2018.

Insured unemployment rates vary widely by state. During the week ending November 30, the lowest rates were in Nebraska (0.36%), South Dakota (0.41%), Florida and North Carolina (0.45%), and New Hampshire (0.50%). The highest rates were in California (1.90%), Montana (1.96%) West Virginia (2.09%), New Jersey (2.19%), and Alaska (3.11%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above the rate was 1.12% in Texas, 1.49% in New York and 1.79% in Pennsylvania. 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) 12/14/19 12/07/19 11/30/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 234 252 203 6.4 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,722 1,671 1.3 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Dec 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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