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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Ease
by Tom Moeller  December 17, 2015

Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 271,000 (-4.6% y/y) in the week ending December 12 from an unrevised 282,000 in the previous week. The decline reversed most of the prior month's increase. Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 273,000 filings. The four-week moving average held steady at 270,000 and remained near the 15-year low. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for December employment and initial claims were stable with the November period. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

In the week ending December 5, continuing claims for unemployment insurance edged lower to 2.238 million, though claims in the last two weeks were raised from the November lows. The four-week moving average also edged higher to 2.200 million, but remained near the 15-year low.

The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.7%, remaining near the cycle low.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. The lowest were South Dakota (0.5%), Nebraska (0.7%), Florida (0.8%), Indiana (0.8%), Virginia (0.8%) and Tennessee (0.9%). At the other end of the spectrum were Massachusetts (2.1%), Illinois (2.2%), Connecticut (2.3%), Pennsylvania (2.4%), California (2.7%) and New Jersey (2.7%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted and reported with a two-week lag versus the headline figure.

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) 12/12/15 12/05/15 11/28/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 271 282 269 -4.6 307 342 372
Continuing Claims -- 2,238 2,245 -6.5 2,607 2,978 3,308
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.7 1.7

(Dec. 2014)

2.0 2.3 2.6
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