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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Remain Range Bound
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  November 3, 2022

• Claims were little changed in the week ended October 29.

• Continued weeks claimed were up modestly.

• Insured unemployment rate remains near 51-year low.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance were little changed at 217,000 (-22.5% y/y) during the week ended October 29 from 218,000 during the prior week, which was revised from 217,000. A level of 220,000 had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 218,750 compared with 219,250 in the prior week. It remained well below an early-August high of 249,500 but well above an early-April low of 170,500.

In the week ended October 22, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance increased to 1.485 million (-34.4% y/y) from an unrevised 1.438 million in the prior week. The 4-week moving average rose to 1.418 million from 1.388 million.

The insured unemployment rate in the week ended October 22 was steady at 1.0%. 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 15, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs edged up to 1.251 million (-53.2% y/y) from 1.222 million. 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 15 were in Puerto Rico (2.06%), New Jersey (1.76%), California (1.69%), Alaska (1.46%) and New York (1.31%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.14%), Virginia (0.17%), Alabama (0.19%), North Dakota (0.21%) and Kansas (0.26%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania and Illinois (1.01%), Texas (0.77%) 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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