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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Rose in the Latest Week
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  May 19, 2022

• Initial claims rose 21,000 to 218,000, the highest claimants' level since January 29.

• Continued weeks claimed fell again to its lowest level since late 1969.

• The insured unemployment rate hit a new record low of 0.9%.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance filed in the week ended May 14 rose 21,000 to 218,000 (-53.3% y/y) from 197,000 the week ended May 4, revised from 203,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 199,000 claims for the latest week. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 199,500 from 191,250 in the prior week.

In the week ended May 7, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance fell to 1.317 million from 1.342 million. The May 7 number was the lowest count since the week ended December 27, 1969. The insured unemployment rate edged down to a new record low of 0.9%.

In the week ended April 30, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs fell yet again, declining to 1.371 million from 1.440 million in the prior week. This total includes federal employees, newly discharged veterans, extended benefits and other specialized programs and is not seasonally adjusted. Claims in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation are no longer included in the main Labor Department press release, since both programs have expired.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending April 30 were in California (2.07%), New Jersey (1.98%), Alaska (1.83%), New York (1.45%), Puerto Rico (1.38%), Rhode Island (1.36%), Minnesota (1.35%), Massachusetts (1.30%) and Illinois (1.24%). The lowest rates were in Alabama (0.18%), Virginia (0.21%), South Dakota (0.23%), Nebraska (0.27%), Kansas (0.28%), North Carolina (0.30%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.10%), Texas (0.78%) and Florida (0.37%). 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.

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