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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline
by Tom Moeller  March 3, 2022

• Initial claims have trended lower since mid-January.

• Continued claims are little changed w/w.

• Insured unemployment rate remains at record low.

These latest readings paint a picture of labor market strength. Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 215,000 (-71.7% y/y) in the week ended February 26 from 233,000 in the previous week, revised from 232,000. The latest reading is down from 290,000 in the second week of January. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 226,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of claims eased to 230,500 from 236,500 in the prior week.

In the week ended February 19, continuing unemployment insurance claims of 1.476 million (-66.3% y/y) compared to 1.474 million in the previous week, revised from 1.476 million. The latest reading remains the lowest level since early-1970.

The insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 1.1% in the week ended February 19. The reading ties a record low reached in the week ended January 1.

In the week ended February 12, the not seasonally adjusted total number of continuing weeks claimed in all programs fell to 1.971 million.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs continued to vary. In the week ending February 12, the highest insured unemployment rates were in California (2.62%), Alaska (2.59%), New Jersey (2.47%), Rhode Island (2.41%), Minnesota (2.33%) and Illinois (2.13%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.20%), Alabama (0.24%), North Carolina (0.36%), Arizona (0.46%) and New Hampshire (0.48%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include New York (2.23%), Pennsylvania (1.88%), Ohio (1.19%), Texas (0.88%) and Florida (0.48%). These state rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expired on September 6, 2021, are no longer included in this report. Also, continued claims for both the PUA program and for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation are no longer reported as both programs have expired.

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) 02/26/22 02/19/22 02/12/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 215.0 233.0 249.0 -71.7 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 194.7 216.0 239.8 -74.3 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,476.0 1,474.0 -66.3 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 1859.0 1,911.0 -61.7 3,259.7 10,369.7 1,703.6
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.1 1.1

(Feb 2021)

2.3 7.1 1.2
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