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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Remain High; Continuing Claims Rise
by Tom Moeller  May 14, 2020

• Initial jobless insurance claims eased to 2.981 million last week.

• Over the last eight weeks 36.5 million individuals, 23.3% of the labor force, filed new claims.

• Continuing claims continue to increase.

Initial jobless claims for unemployment insurance fell to 2.981 million in the week ended May 9 from 3.176 million in the previous week, revised from 3.169 million. During the last eight weeks, 36.5 million people filed new jobless insurance claims. The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated 2.5 million initial claims for last week.

The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 3.617 million from 4.181 million.

Initial claims filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program slipped to 841,995.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased to a record 22.833 million in the week ended May 2 from 22.377 million in the prior week, revised from 22.647 million.

The insured rate of unemployment jumped to a new high of 15.7% (data date back to 1971). The state insured rates of unemployment continued to show wide variation. California stood at 27.8% and Michigan reported 23.1%. Vermont remained high at 20.0%. New York logged 18.6% and North Carolina recorded 13.4%. At the low end, South Dakota stood at 5.7% and Texas registered 9.2%. The state rates are not seasonally adjusted.

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) 05/09/20 05/02/20 04/25/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Initial Claims 2,981 3,176 3,867 1,273.7 218 221 244
  4-wk Average 3,617 4,181 5,040 -- -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 22,833 22,377 1,260.7 1,701 1,756 1,961
  4-week Average -- 19,760 17,030 -- -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 15.7 15.4

1.2
(May 2019)

1.2 1.2 1.4
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