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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Edge Higher W/W; Trend Sideways
by Tom Moeller  October 1, 2015

Today's Labor Department report on unemployment insurance applications suggests that the job market remains firm. Initial claims rose to 277,000 (-5.3% y/y) during the week ended September 26 from an unrevised 267,000 during the prior week. The four week moving average of claims eased to 270,750. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 270,000 initial claims in the latest week. During the last ten years there has been a 76% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

In the week ended September 19, continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased w/w at 2.191 million (-9.5% y/y), the fewest since November 2000. The four-week moving average fell to 2.235 million and has been moving sideways since mid-July.

The insured rate of unemployment notched lower to 1.6%, equaling the lowest point since June 2000.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary with South Dakota (0.27%), Indiana (0.73%), Virginia (0.74%), Maine (0.83%), South Carolina (0.86%) and Florida (0.87%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (1.74%), Connecticut (2.03%), California (2.18%), Pennsylvania (2.18%), Alaska (2.37%) and New Jersey (2.46%). 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) 09/26/15 09/19/15 09/12/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 277 267 264 -5.3 309 343 374
Continuing Claims -- 2,191 2,244 -9.5 2,599 2,978 3,319
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.7 1.9
2.0 2.3 2.6
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