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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Remain Range Bound
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  November 17, 2022

• Claims edged down 4,000 in the week ended November 12.

• Continued weeks claimed were up modestly.

• Insured unemployment rate holds near record low.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance edged down to 222,000 (-16.2% y/y) during the week ended November 12 from 226,000 during the prior week, which was revised up 1,000 from 225,000. A level of 228,000 had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 221,000 compared with 219,000 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 November 5, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance increased to 1.507 million (-30.6% y/y) from 1.494 million in the prior week. The 4-week moving average rose to 1.482 million from 1.451 million.

The insured unemployment rate in the week ended November 5 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 29, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs rose to 1.287 million (-50.6% y/y) from 1.263 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 across states. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending October 29 were in Puerto Rico (2.1%), California (1.8%), Alaska (1.7%), New Jersey (1.7%), Rhode Island (1.4%), New York (1.3%), Massachusetts (1.2%), Nevada (1.1%) Oregon (1.1%) and Washington (1.1%). 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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