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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Continued to Fall
by Sandy Batten  February 24, 2022

• Fifth weekly decline in past six weeks.

• Continued claims fell in week ended Feb 12 to lowest since early 1970.

• Insured unemployment rate tied record low.

Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 232,000 in the week ended February 19 from a slightly upwardly revised 249,000 (initially 248,000) in the previous week. This was the fifth weekly decline in the past six weeks. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 234,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of claims fell to 236,250 from 243,500 in the prior week, revised up from 243,250.

In the week ended February 12, seasonally adjusted continued claims for regular state unemployment insurance were 1.476 million, down from 1.588 million in the previous week (revised down from 1.593 million). The February 12 reading was the lowest level since early 1970.

Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expired on September 6, 2021, 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 1.1% in the week ended February12 with the 1.2% reading in the prior week revised down 0.1 percentage point. The 1.1% reading ties a record low first reached 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 February 5, the not seasonally adjusted total number of continuing weeks claimed in all programs fell 30,906 to 2.033 million.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely. In the week ending February 5, the highest insured unemployment rates were in California (2.71%), Alaska (2.64%), New Jersey (2.52%), Minnesota (2.46%), Illinois (2.45%) and Rhode Island (2.44%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.20%), Alabama (0.25%), North Carolina (0.36%), Arizona (0.45%) and New Hampshire (0.47%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include New York (2.30%), Pennsylvania (1.80%), Ohio (1.19%), Texas (0.89%) and Florida (0.49%). 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) 02/19/22 02/12/22 02/05/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 232.0 249.0 225.0 -68.9 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 214.9 239.7 230.7 -70.0 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,476.0 1,588.0 -67.0 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 1,913.0 1,970.0 -60.4 3,259.7 10,369.7 1,703.6
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.1 1.1

3.1
(Feb 2021)

2.3 7.1 1.2
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