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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Ease
by Tom Moeller  October 20, 2022

• Claims remain on downward trend.

• Continued weeks claimed edge higher, but trend level also slips.

• Insured unemployment rate remains near record low.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 214,000 (-31.0% y/y) during the week ended October 15 from 226,000 during the prior week, revised from 228,000. A level of 232,000 had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 212,250 compared to 211,000 in the prior week, and was below an early-August high of 249,500. It remained higher than an early-April low of 170,500.

In the week ended October 8, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance edged higher to 1.385 million (-44.9% y/y) from 1.364 million in the prior week, revised from 1.368 million. The 4-week moving average rose to 1.365 million from 1.363 million, the lowest number of continuing claims since the third week of July.

The insured unemployment rate in the week ended October 8 rose to 1.0% from a revised 0.9% in the prior week. The insured unemployment rate has varied between 0.9% and 1.0% since April, a record-low range for the series, which dates back to 1971.

In the week ended October 1, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs fell to 1.224 million (-62.7% y/y). 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 October 1 were in New Jersey (1.74%), California (1.70%), New York (1.34%), Rhode Island (1.24%) and Massachusetts (1.14%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.13%), Virginia (0.17%), Alabama (0.20%), North Dakota (0.21%) and Kansas (0.25%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.02%), Illinois (0.97%), Texas (0.76%) and Florida (0.44%). 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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