U.S. Jobless Insurance Claims Jump
|in:Economy in Brief
- Initial claims surge last week to ten-week high.
- Continuing claims also strengthen.
- Insured unemployment rate edges higher.
Initial unemployment insurance claims increased to 211,000 (6.6% y/y) during the week ended March 4 from an unrevised 190,000 in the prior week. Initial claims have risen from a low of 183,000 in the last week of January. Expectations had been for a lesser rise to 194,000 in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims of 197,000 compared to 193,000 in the prior week, and stood at the highest level in six weeks.
In the week ended February 25, the number of continuing weeks claimed for unemployment insurance rose to 1.718 million (3.2% y/y) from 1.649 million in the prior week. These claims were the highest since the third week of December and have risen from a low of 1.630 million in the last week of December. The four-week moving average of continuing claims increased to 1.680 million, the highest level in nine weeks.
The insured rate of unemployment rose to 1.2% after two weeks at 1.1%. It remained above the record low range of 0.9%-to-1.0% in place from April through October of last year.
In the week ended February 18, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs fell 2.0% (+ 0.6% y/y) to 1.921 million from 1.960 million in the prior week. 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 February 18 were in New Jersey (2.65%), Massachusetts (2.34%) California (2.19%), Alaska (2.07%), Illinois (1.99%) and New York (1.91%). The lowest rates were in Alabama (0.26%), Virginia (0.32%), Kansas (0.42%), Nebraska (0.61%) and South Dakota (0.61%). Other major state rates include Pennsylvania (1.76%), Texas (0.95%) and Florida (0.40%). 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.
Tom MoellerAuthorMore in Author Profile »
Prior to joining Haver Analytics in 2000, Mr. Moeller worked as the Economist at Chancellor Capital Management from 1985 to 1999. There, he developed comprehensive economic forecasts and interpreted economic data for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. Also at Chancellor, Mr. Moeller worked as an equity analyst and was responsible for researching and rating companies in the economically sensitive automobile and housing industries for investment in Chancellor’s equity portfolio. Prior to joining Chancellor, Mr. Moeller was an Economist at Citibank from 1979 to 1984. He also analyzed pricing behavior in the metals industry for the Council on Wage and Price Stability in Washington, D.C. In 1999, Mr. Moeller received the award for most accurate forecast from the Forecasters' Club of New York. From 1990 to 1992 he was President of the New York Association for Business Economists. Mr. Moeller earned an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University, where he graduated in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from George Washington University.