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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Return to 2000 Low
by Tom Moeller  April 9, 2015

Job market improvement continues to be evidenced in the weekly report on claims for unemployment insurance. Initial claims in the week ended April 4 nudged up to 281,000 (-9.4% y/y) from 267,000 during the prior week, revised from 268,000. That left the four-week moving average of claims at 282,250, the lowest level in roughly 15 years. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 280,000 claims in the latest week. During the last ten years, there has been a 76% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

The insured rate of unemployment fell to 1.7%, its lowest level since November 2000. The overall civilian unemployment rate of 5.5%, however, is higher then the 4.0% rate registered in 2000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended March 28 declined to 2.304 million (-16.4% y/y), the lowest level since December 2000. The four-week moving average fell to 2.361 million but has trended sideways since January.

By state, in the week ended March 21, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Florida (0.83%), Tennessee (1.08%), Louisiana (1.15%), Texas (1.43%), Ohio (1.66%) and New Mexico (1.88%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (2.38%), Nevada (2.39%), California (2.73%), Massachusetts (2.99%), New Jersey (3.38%) and Alaska (3.93%). These data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance 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 survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

The minutes to the latest FOMC meeting are available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 04/04/15 03/28/15 03/21/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 281 267 288 -9.4 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,304 2,327 -16.4 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.7 1.7 2.2
2.0 2.3 2.6
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