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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Fell Last Week, Nearing 15-Year Low
by Tom Moeller  January 7, 2016

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 277,000 (-7.8%y/y) in the week ended January 2 from an unrevised 287,000 the previous week. Consensus expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey looked for 275,000 applications. The four-week moving average eased to 275,750. Though up slightly from the October lows, these figures are close to the fewest claims in 15 years. 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 26, continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 2.230 million (-10.6 y/y) from the previous week's 2.205 million. The four-week moving average rose to 2.218 million. These figures are slightly higher than the low in late October.

The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.6%, also the low 15-year low.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. Near the low end of the range were Florida (0.58%), North Carolina (0.72%), Nebraska (0.76%), Georgia (0.82%), Virginia (0.83%), and Tennessee (0.91%). At the high end of the scale were Massachusetts (2.22%), Illinois (2.26%), Connecticut (2.33%), Pennsylvania (2.48%), New Jersey (2.65%), and Alaska (4.32%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted and reported with a two-week lag versus the headline national figure for initial claims. They cover the week ended December 19.

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) 01/02/15 12/26/15 12/19/15 Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 277 287 267 -7.8 278 308 344
Continuing Claims -- 2,230 2,205 -10.6 2,267 2,599 2,979
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.6

(Dec. 2014)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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