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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Edged Down
by Sandy Batten  June 24, 2021

• Modest decline from upwardly revised previous week.

• Continuing state claims fell to new pandemic low.

• PUA claims rose for second consecutive week.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 7,000 in the week ended June 19 to 411,000 from an upwardly revised 418.000 in the previous week (initially (412,000). The Action Economics Forecast Survey panel expected new claims to decline to 380,000. The 4-week moving average edged up to 397,750 last week from 396,250 the previous week, a pandemic low.

Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program rose for the second consecutive week, increasing to 104,682 in the week ended June 19 from a downwardly revised 97,762 in the previous week (initially 118,025). The PUA program provides benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance benefits, such as the self-employed. Given the brief history of this program, these and other COVID-related series are not seasonally adjusted.

Continuing claims for regular state unemployment insurance fell 144,000 to a new pandemic low of 3.390 million in the week ended June 12. The insured rate of unemployment slipped 0.1%-point to 2.4%, also a new pandemic low. This rate reached a high of 15.9% in the week of May 9, 2020.

Continuing claims for PUA fell to 5.950 million in the week ended June 5, the lowest since the week ended April 25, 2020, from 6.126 in the previous week. By contrast, continuing PEUC claims rose to 5.273 million in the week ended June 5 from 5.165 million in the previous week. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program covers people who have exhausted their state unemployment insurance benefits.

The total number of all state, federal, and PUA and PEUC continuing claims was 14.845 million in the week ended June 5, an increase in 3,756 from the previous week. The level of total continuing claims in the week ended May 29 was the lowest since early April 2020. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs continued to vary widely. In the week ending May 29, the highest insured unemployment rates were in Rhode Island (4.83%), Nevada (4.46%), California (3.93%), Connecticut (3.91%) and Alaska (3.68%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.48%), Alabama (0.69%), Utah (0.70%), Kansas (0.72%), and Nebraska (0.78%). Insured unemployment rates in other large states included New York (3.55%), Illinois (3.61%), Texas (1.64%) and Florida (1.31%). These 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) 06/19/21 06/12/21 06/05/21 Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Initial Claims 411 418 374 -71.8 1,352 218 220
Initial Claims (NSA) 393 408 365 -72.8 1,353 218 221
Initial Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) 105 98 71 -88.0 -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 3,390 3,534 -81.2 10,380 1,699 1,754
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 3,210 3,304 -82.0 10,370 1,704 1,763
Continuing Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) -- -- 5,950 -48.1 -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.4 2.5

12.2
(June 2020)

7.1 1.2 1.2
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