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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Continue on an Uptrend
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  August 11, 2022

• Initial claims rose 14,000 in the August 6 week.

• The previous week was revised down by 12,000.

• Continued claims rose 8,000 in the July 30 week.

• The insured unemployment rate remained at 1.0%.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance filed in the week ended August 6 rose 14,000 to 262,000 (-37.0% y/y) from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 12,000 from 260,000 to 248,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey had expected 260,000. The recent low for claims was 166,000 in the week of March 19. The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 252,000, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 7,250 from 254,750 to 247,500. The latest week's 4-week moving average is the highest since last November 2021.

In the week ended July 30, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance rose 8,000 to 1.428 million from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 4,000 from 1.416 million to 1.420 million. The insured unemployment rate remained unchanged at 1%, the fourth week in a row. The insured unemployment rate has been fluctuating between 0.9% and 1.0% since April (a record-low range).

In the week ended July 23, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs was 1.479 million, an increase of 9,206 from 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 insured rates of unemployment in regular programs across states vary widely. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending July 23 were in Connecticut (2.28%), New Jersey (2.12%), Puerto Rico (2.01%), California (1.87%), Rhode Island (1.79%), Massachusetts (1.71%), New York (1.61%), and Pennsylvania (1.51%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.19%), Virginia (0.32%), Alabama (0.32%), and Kansas (0.32%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Illinois (1.18%), Nevada (1.17%), Texas (0.89%), Ohio (0.65%) and Florida (0.47%). 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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