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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Ease Further
by Tom Moeller  September 8, 2022

• First-time claims fall to lowest since the end of May.

• Continued weeks claimed rise to five-month high.

• Insured unemployment rate holds near record low.

In the week ending September 3, initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 222,000 (-38.5% y/y) from 228,00 during the previous week, revised from 232,000. The number for the August 20 week was revised to 237,000 from 243,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 237,000 initial claims for last week. The 4-week moving average of initial claims fell to 233,000 last week from 240,000 in the prior week, revised from 241,500.

In the week ended August 27, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance rose to 1.473 million (46.2% y/y) from 1.437 million in the prior week, revised from 1.438 million. The second week of December was unrevised at 1.412 million weeks.

The insured unemployment rate remained at 1% for the eigth consecutive week. The insured unemployment rate has been fluctuating between 0.9% and 1.0% since April, a record-low range for the series which dates back to 1971.

In the week ended August 20, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs was 1.415 million (-88.1% y/y). A 36-year low of 1.282 million were claimed in the last week of May. 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 vary widely across states. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending August 20 were in New Jersey (2.21%), California (1.87%), Rhode Island (1.78%), Puerto Rico (1.70%), Connecticut (1.67%), and New York (1.66%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.16%), Alabama (0.24%), Kansas (0.29%), Nebraska (0.30%), and Virginia (0.37%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.32%), Illinois (1.12%), Texas (0.84%) and Florida (0.46%). 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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