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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Insurance Claims Increase
by Tom Moeller  December 2, 2021

• Initial claims rise less-than-expected.

• Continuing claims in regular programs fall again.

• Insured jobless rate drops further.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose 28,000 in the week ended November 27 to 222,000 from 194,000 in the previous week, revised from 199,000 reported initially. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 248,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average rose to 238,750 in the week ended November 27 from 251,000 the week prior.

Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in the week ended November 27 fell to 1,406 from 1,616 in the prior week. This program expired on September 4, explaining the decline in new claims over the past several weeks. These claims averaged 107,756 per week during August, the last full month of the program. The PUA program provided 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.

Continued weeks claims for regular state unemployment insurance fell to 1.956 million in the week ended November 20, a pandemic low, from 2.063 million in the week prior, revised from 2.049 million. The insured unemployment rate eased to 1.4%, a pandemic low, from 1.5%.

In the week ended November 6, continued weeks claimed in the Pandemic Assistance Program (PUA) program dropped to 170,300 from 187,243 in the week prior. The number of continued weeks claimed compares to 4.896 million in the last week of the program, September 4. Continued weeks claimed for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) declined to 146,449 in the week ended November 13, down from 151,556 in the prior week and below the 3,644,555 claims during the last week of the program on September 4. This program covered people who had exhausted their state unemployment insurance benefits.

In the week ended November 13 the total number of all state, federal, PUA and PEUC continued claims was 2.306 million, up from 2.285 million the prior week. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs continue to vary. In the week ending November 13, the highest insured unemployment rates were the District of Columbia (3.5%), the Virgin Islands (3.3%), Alaska (2.8%), Puerto Rico (2.7%), California (2.7%) and New Jersey (2.4%). The lowest rates were Nebraska (0.4%), South Dakota (0.3%) and Alabama (0.3%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs included Illinois (2.3%), Pennsylvania (2.0%), New York (1.8%), Texas (1.0%), and Florida (0.6%). 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 and is in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 11/27/21 11/20/21 11/13/21 Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Initial Claims 222.0 194.0 270.0 -69.1 1,352.1 218.0 220.4
Initial Claims (NSA) 211.9 253.5 240.4 -70.2 1,352.7 217.6 220.9
Initial Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA)  1.406 1.616 1.380 -99.5 -- -- --
Continuing Claims -- 1,956.0 2,063.0 -65.1 10,379.7 1,699.0 1,754.2
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 1,563.0 1,829.0 -70.1 10,369.7 1,703.6 1,763.2
Continuing Claims Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (NSA) -- -- 170.3 -98.1 -- -- --
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.5

(Nov 2020)

7.1 1.2 1.2
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