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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline to 1973 Low
by Tom Moeller  July 23, 2015

The rate of labor market improvement may have accelerated. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 255,000 (-8.4% y/y) during the week ended July 18 from an unrevised 281,000 during the prior week. The latest figure was the lowest since November 1973. The four-week moving average eased to 278,500. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 281,000 initial claims.

The latest claim figure covers the survey period for July nonfarm payrolls and claims fell 13,000 (4.9%) from the June period. 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.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 2.207 million (-12.4% y/y), the lowest level since late-May. The four-week moving average eased to 2.254 million.

The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.6%, the lowest point since June 2000.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (0.38%), Indiana (0.78%), Florida (0.89%), New Hampshire (0.94%), South Carolina (0.99%) and Tennessee (1.13%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (2.14%), California (2.28%), Alaska (2.39%), Pennsylvania (2.58%), Connecticut (2.75%) and New Jersey (2.96%). 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.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 07/18/15 07/11/15 07/04/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 255 281 296 -8.4 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,207 2,216 -12.4 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.6 1.9
2.0 2.3 2.6
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