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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall
by Sandy Batten  January 30, 2020

Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined 7,000 to 216,000 during the week ended January 25. Claims were down 11.5% from a year ago. The previous week's figure was revised up to 223,000 from 211,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey had looked for 215,000 initial claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 214,500, the lowest level since early October, from 216,250 the previous week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended January 18 declined 44,000 to 1.703 million (-2.1% y/y) from the prior week's 1.747 million, revised up from 1.731 million. The four-week moving average of claimants fell to 1.756 million from 1.762 million, which had been the highest level since May 2018.

The insured rate of unemployment was steady at 1.2%, where it has been since mid-November. Apart from a few weeks over the past six months when this rate dipped to 1.1%, this is the lowest reading in the history of the series dating back to 1971.

Insured unemployment rates vary widely by state. During the week ending January 11, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.40%), Nebraska (0.51%), North Carolina (0.51%), Virginia (0.60%) and Tennessee (0.63%). The highest rates were in Montana (2.48%), Connecticut (2.57%), West Virginia (2.64%), New Jersey (2.70%) and Alaska (3.25%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 1.19% in Texas, 1.75% in New York and 2.18% in California. These state data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment claims dating 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) 01/25/20 01/18/20 01/11/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Initial Claims 216 223 205 -11.5 218 220 244
Continuing Claims -- 1,703 1,747 -2.1 1,700 1,756 1,961
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jan 2019)

1.2 1.2 1.4
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