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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Unexpectedly Jump to 5-Week High
by Tom Moeller  November 5, 2015

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased by 16,000 during the week ended October 31 to 276,000 (-3.1% y/y). The prior week's level of 260,000 was unrevised. The latest was the highest level of claims since the last week of September. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 260,000 initial claims. The four week moving average increased slightly to 262,750 but remained near the 15-year low. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

In the week ended October 24, continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose w/w to 2.163 million (-8.6% y/y). The four-week moving average declined to 2.162 million, also near the 15-year low.

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

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary with South Dakota (0.24%), North Carolina (0.66%), Virginia (0.72%), Maine (0.77%), Tennessee (0.83%) and Vermont (0.93%) at the low end of the range. At the high end remained Oregon (1.60%), Massachusetts (1.66%), Connecticut (1.99%), Pennsylvania (2.04%), California (2.10%) and New Jersey (2.31%). 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) 10/31/15 10/24/15 10/17/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 276 260 259 -3.1 307 342 372
Continuing Claims -- 2,163 2,146 -8.6 2,607 2,978 3,308
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.6 1.8
2.0 2.3 2.6
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