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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Fell by 13,000
by Carol Stone, CBE  December 26, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 13,000 in the week ended December 21 to 222,000 (-0.4% y/y) from the prior week's 235,000, which was revised upward by 1,000. The December 21 actual also equaled the Action Economics Forecast Survey at 222,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 228,000 from 225,750.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended December 14 eased 6,000 to 1.719 million (+1.2% y/y). The November 30 figure was revised up 3,000 to 1.725 million. The four-week moving average of claimants rose to 1.704 million from 1.684 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% in the week of December 14. 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 December 7, the lowest rates were in Nebraska (0.32%), Florida (0.39%), North Carolina (0.45%), South Dakota (0.48%) and Indiana (0.51%). The highest rates were in Montana (1.91%), Pennsylvania (2.04%), New Jersey (2.14%), West Virginia (2.17%) and Alaska (2.82%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above, the rate was 1.00% in Texas, 1.46% in New York and 1.87% in California. 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) 12/21/19 12/14/19 12/07/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 222 235 252 -0.4 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,719 1,725 1.2 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

1.2
(Dec 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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