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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Eased Slightly in the Latest Week
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  May 26, 2022

• Initial claims declined 8,000 to 210,000 in the week ended May 21.

• Continued weeks claimed rose slightly, but from the lowest count since 1969.

• The insured unemployment rate edged back up to 1.0%.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance filed in the week ended May 21 were 210,000 (-52.4% y/y), a decrease of 8,000 from the unrevised level of 218,000 the prior week. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 claims for the latest week. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 206,750 from 199,500 in the prior week.

In the week ended May 14, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance rose modestly to 1.346 million from 1.315 million in the May 7 week, which had been the lowest count since the week ended December 27, 1969. The insured unemployment rate edged back up to 1.0% from the record low of 0.9% in the prior week.

In the week ended May 7, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs fell to 1.317 million from 1.371 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 May 7 were in California (1.96%), New Jersey (1.93%), Alaska (1.74%), Puerto Rico (1.43%), New York (1.42%), Rhode Island (1.29%), Massachusetts (1.25%), Pennsylvania (1.22%), Illinois (1.17%), and Minnesota (1.16%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.18%), Alabama (0.21%), Virginia (0.23%), Nebraska (0.27%), Kansas (0.28%), and North Carolina (0.29%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Texas (0.73%) 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, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

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