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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Jumped in Latest Week
by Sandy Batten  February 17, 2022

• First increase in claims in four weeks.

• Continued claims fell in week ended Feb 5 to second lowest since 1973.

• Insured unemployment rate held steady near record low.

Initial unemployment insurance claims rose to 248,000 in the week ended February 12, up from 225,000 in the previous week (revised up from 223,000). The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 222,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of claims fell to 243,250 from 253,750 in the prior week, revised up from 253,500.

In the week ended February 5, seasonally adjusted continued claims for regular state unemployment insurance were 1.593 million, down from 1.619 million in the prior week (revised down from 1.621 million). The February 5 readingwas the second lowest level since mid-1973.

Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expired on September 6, 2020, are no longer included in this report. This program provided benefits to individuals who were not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance benefits, such as the self-employed.

The insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 1.2% in the week ended February 5. This rate is just 0.1 percentage point above the all-time low of 1.1% recorded in the week ended January 1.

Continued claims for both the PUA program and for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (a program for those unemployed who had exhausted their state benefits) are no longer included in this report as both programs have expired.

In the week ended January 29, the not seasonally adjusted total number of continuing weeks claimed in all programs fell 36,295 to 2.064 million.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely. In the week ending January 29, the highest insured unemployment rates were in Alaska (2.72%), California (2.69%), New Jersey (2.58%), Minnesota (2.49%), Rhode Island (2.42%), and New York (2.35%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.20%), Alabama (0.27%), North Carolina (0.36%), Arizona (0.47%), New Hampshire (0.49%) and Arkansas (0.49%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Illinois (2.17%), Pennsylvania (1.98%), Ohio (1.15%), Texas (0.90%) and Florida (0.52%). 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) 02/12/22 02/05/22 01/29/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 248.0 225.0 239.0 -70.7 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 238.5 230.7 257.6 -71.4 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,593.0 1,619.0 -65.3 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 1,975.0 1,999.0 -60.3 3,259.7 10,369.7 1,703.6
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Feb 2021)

2.3 7.1 1.2
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