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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Claims Rise
by Sandy Batten  February 27, 2020

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose 8,000 to 219,000 (-2.2% y/y) during the week ended February 22 from 211,000 in the prior week, revised up slightly from 210,000. The February 22 result was higher than the Action Economics Forecast Survey at 212,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims was 209,750, up marginally from 209,250 the previous week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended February 15 dropped to 1.724 million (-2.8% y/y) from an upwardly revised 1.733 million (initially 1.726 million) the previous week. The four-week moving average of claimants rose to 1.729 million.

The insured rate of unemployment held steady at 1.2%, where it has been since mid-November. Except for a few weeks last fall when the rate dipped to 1.1%, it has been 1.2% since May 2018.

Insured unemployment rates vary widely by state. The state data are not seasonally adjusted. During the week ending February 8, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.40%), North Carolina (0.50%), Nebraska and Virginia (0.60%), and New Hampshire (0.61%). The highest rates were in Connecticut (2.38%), West Virginia (2.52%), Montana (2.53%), New Jersey (2.74%) and Alaska (3.04%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 1.09% in Texas, 1.75% in New York, 2.17% in California and 2.26% in Illinois.

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) 02/22/20 02/15/20 02/08/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Initial Claims 219 211 206 -2.2 218 220 244
Continuing Claims -- 1,724 1,733 -2.8 1,701 1,756 1,961
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

1.2
(Feb. 2019)

1.2 1.2 1.4
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