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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Continue to Trend Higher
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  July 21, 2022

• Initial claims increased 7,000 to 251,000 in the July 16 week.

• Continued claims rose 51,000 in the week of July 9.

• The insured unemployment rate rose to 1.0%.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance filed in the week ended July 16 rose 7,000 to 251,000 (-40.8% y/y) from 244,000 the previous week, which was unrevised. The Action Economics Forecast Survey had expected 235,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 240,500 from 236,000, revised from 235,750 in the prior week. The recent low for claims was 166,000 in the week of March 19.

In the week ended July 9, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance rose 51,000 to 1.384 million from 1.333 million in the prior week, revised up by 2,000 from 1.331 million. The insured unemployment rate was up to 1.0% from 0.9% in the week of July 2. The insured unemployment rate has been hovering between 0.9% and 1.0% since April.

In the week ended July 2, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs fell 47,842 to 1.353 million, from 1.401 million in the previous week. A 36-year low of 1.282 million was reached in the week of May 28. 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, 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 July 2 were in Puerto Rico (2.07%), New Jersey (1.91%), California (1.67%), Rhode Island (1.71%), New York (1.53%), Pennsylvania (1.49%), and Massachusetts (1.43%). Lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.17%), Virginia (0.27%), Kansas (0.30%) and Alabama (0.31%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Alaska (1.22%), Illinois (1.17%), Texas (0.78%), Ohio (0.68%) and Florida (0.41%). 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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