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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Remain on Slight Downtrend
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  September 1, 2022

• Initial claims down 5,000 in week ended August 27; previous week revised down 6,000.

• Continued weeks claimed up 26,000 in the August 20 week.

• The insured unemployment rate remains in the record low range.

In the week ending August 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 232,000 (-39.1% y/y), a decrease of 5,000 from the August 20 week's revised level. The number for the August 20 week was revised down by 6,000 from 243,000 to 237,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 249,000 in the August 27 week. The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 241,500, a decline of 4,000 from the previous week's revised average of 245,500. That was revised down by 1,500 from 247,000.

In the week ended August 20, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance rose 26,000 to 1,438 million from the August 13 week of 1,412 million, revised down 3,000 from 1,415 million. The insured unemployment rate remained at 1% for the seventh consecutive week. 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 13, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs was 1,438 million, a decrease of 10,407 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 13 were in New Jersey (2.17%), Puerto Rico (1.97%), Connecticut (1.88%), California (1.84%), Rhode Island (1.79%) and New York (1.61%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.16%), Alabama (0.27%), Kansas (0.31%), Nebraska (0.33%), and Virginia (0.34%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.54%), Illinois (1.16%), Texas (0.85%) 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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