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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline
by Tom Moeller  August 27, 2015

Initial claims for unemployment insurance eased to 271,000 (-8.9% y/y) during the week ended August 22 from an unrevised 277,000 in the week earlier. The four-week moving average rose slightly to 272,500. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 275,000 initial 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 remained at 1.7%, near the lowest point since June 2000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 2.269 million (-9.9% y/y) from 2.256 million. The four-week moving average held at 2.265 million and has been moving sideways for two months.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Nebraska (0.70%), Virginia (0.84%), Florida (0.92%), Georgia (0.95%), Tennessee (1.01%) and Texas (1.58%) near the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (2.10%), West Virginia (2.20%), California (2.27%), Pennsylvania (2.48%), Connecticut (2.59%) and New Jersey (2.94%). 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.

Mind the Gap: Assessing Labor Market Slack from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 08/22/15 08/15/15 08/08/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 271 277 273 -8.9 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,269 2,256 -9.9 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.7 1.7 1.9
2.0 2.3 2.6
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