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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Increase 20,000
by Carol Stone  December 31, 2015

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 287,000 (-2.0%y/y) in the week ended December 26 from 267,000 the previous week. That latter figure was unrevised. Consensus expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey looked for 270,000 filings. This latest move was the largest increase since the week ended February 21 and the largest number since July 4. The four-week moving average rose 4,500 to 277,000. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

In the week ending December 19, continuing claims for unemployment insurance edged upward to 2.198 million (-7.1% y/y) from the previous week's 2.195 million. The four-week moving average rose to 2.220 million, seeming to form a flattening pattern after a long downtrend. The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.6%, sustaining the historically low band of 1.6-1.7% through nine months.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. South Dakota edged up slightly but was still the lowest at 0.64%, with Florida at 0.70%, Nebraska at 0.71%, North Carolina at 0.74%, and Virginia at 0.80%. At the high end of the range, Alaska had 4.82%, Puerto Rico 2.95% and Montana 2.79%, with Pennsylvania and New Jersey both at 2.67%. The state data are not seasonally adjusted and reported with a two-week lag versus the headline national figure for initial claims, so these cover the week ended December 12.

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) 12/26/15 12/19/15 12/12/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Initial Claims 287 267 272 -2.0 306 341 373
Continuing Claims -- 2,198 2,195 -7.1 2,606 2,980 3,312
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.6

(Dec. 2014)

2.0 2.3 2.6
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