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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Claims Edged Up but Rate Hit a New Record Low
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  March 31, 2022

• Initial claims edged up in the latest week but remain near historically low levels.

• Continued weeks claims are the lowest since December 1969.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance were 202,000 in the week ended March 26 (-72.3% y/y), an increase of 14,000 from the 188,000 level of the week before. That prior week was revised from 187,000 reported before. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 200,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of initial claims edged down to 208,500, from 212,000 in the prior week.

In the week ended March 19, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance were 1.307million, down from 1,342 million in the previous week. These figures are below the 1.715 million of March 7, 2020, immediately before the pandemic and are also the lowest since December 27, 1969. The insured unemployment rate reached a new record low of 0.9%, down from 1.0% reached on the March 5 week. The data on the insured unemployment rate began in 1971.

In the week ended March 12, the number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs decreased 82,000 to 1.776 million. This total includes federal employees, newly discharged veterans, extended benefits and other specialized programs. Continued claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation are no longer reported as both programs have expired.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 12 were in California (2.45%), Alaska (2.27%), New Jersey (2.34%), Rhode Island (2.21%), Massachusetts (2.08%), Minnesota (2.11%), New York (2.02%), Illinois (1.90%), Connecticut (1.75%), Montana (1.73%), and Pennsylvania (1.70%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.19%), Alabama (0.21%), North Carolina (0.32%), Tennessee (0.40%), Florida (0.40%) and Texas (0.81%).

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) 03/26/22 03/19/22 03/12/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 202.0 188.0 215.0 -72.3 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 195.5 182.3 203.9 -73.0 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,307.0 1,342.0 -65.2 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 1,676.0 1,722.0 -59.1 3,259.7 10,369.7 1,703.6
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 0.9 1.0

2.7
(Mar 2021)

2.3 7.1 1.2
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