Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Feb 08 2024

U.S. Unemployment Insurance Claims Drift Lower

  • Decline reverses most of earlier week’s rise.
  • Continuing claims also fall.
  • Insured unemployment rate returns to late-September low.

The labor market exhibited modest improvement in early February. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 218,000 in the week ended February 3 after rising to 227,000 in the last week of January, revised from 224,000. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey were for 220,000 initial claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 212,250 from 208,500 in the four weeks earlier. It was the highest level since the last week of December, though still well below the late-June high of 256,750.

Continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance declined to 1.871 million in the week ended January 27 from 1.894 million in the prior week, revised from 1.898 million. The four-week moving average increased to 1.850 million after rising to 1.840 in the prior week. Continuing claims have fallen from their 4-week average high of 1.877 in the second week of December.

The insured rate of unemployment (continuing claims as a percent of covered employment) fell to 1.2% and reversed the earlier week’s rise to 1.3%. The level of insured unemployment was 149.9 million.

Insured unemployment rates vary widely by states and territories. In the January 20 week, the highest rates occurred in New Jersey (2.85%), Rhode Island (2.69%), Minnesota (2.56%), California (2.46%) and Massachusetts (2.37%). The lowest rates occurred in Virginia (0.39%), Florida (0.39%), North Carolina (0.43%), Kentucky (0.56%), Alabama (0.58%) and the Virgin Islands (0.63%). Other major states include Pennsylvania (2.14%), New York (2.02%), Connecticut (1.93%), Ohio (1.16%) and Texas (1.12%). These state rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment claims are from the Department of Labor itself, not the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They go back to 1967 and are contained in Haver’s WEEKLY database and summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states are in REGIONW back to December 1986. The expectations figure is from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, in the AS1REPNA database.

  • 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.

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