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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Continue Modest Downtrend
by Carol Stone, CBE  August 25, 2022

• Initial claims down 2,000 in week ended August 20; previous week revised down 5,000.

• Continued weeks claimed down 19,000 in the August 13 week.

• The insured unemployment rate still holding in recent record low range.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 2,000 in the week ended August 20 to 243,000 (-38.5% y/y). The number for the August 13 week was revised down by 5,000 to 245,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 252,000 in the August 20 week. The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 247,000, an increase of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 245,500. That was revised down by 1,250 from 246,750.

In the week ended August 13, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance decreased 19,000 to 1.415 million from the previous week; that was 1.434 million, revised down 3,000 from 1.437 million. The insured unemployment rate remained at 1.0% for the sixth week in a row. The insured unemployment rate has been fluctuating between 0.9% and 1.0% since April, a record-low range for this series, which runs back to 1971.

In the week ended August 6, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs was 1.449 million, a decrease of 32,948 from the previous week. A 36-year low of 1.306 million was reached in the week of May 21. 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 August 6 were in New Jersey (2.17%), California (1.86%), Connecticut (1.85%), Rhode Island (1.83%) and New York (1.61%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.19%), Alabama (0.29%), Kansas (0.31%), Virginia (0.34%) and Nebraska (0.37%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.45%), Illinois (1.15%), Texas (0.85%) and Florida (0.48%). 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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