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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Continue to Rise
by Tom Moeller  January 21, 2016

Job market strength appears to be waning. Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 293,000 during the week ended January 16 (-1.5% y/y) from 283,000 during the prior week, revised from 284,000. The four-week moving average rose to 285,000, the highest level since mid-April. Consensus expectations were for 277,000 applications in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for January nonfarm payrolls. There was a 21,000 increase (7.7%) from December. 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 January 9, continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased to 2.208 million (-8.4% y/y) from the previous week's 2.264 million. The four-week moving average rose to 2.228 million, the highest level since late-September.

The insured rate of unemployment fell back to 1.6% from 1.7%.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. Near the low end of the range were Florida (0.64%), North Carolina (0.78%), South Dakota (0.86%), Virginia (1.01%), Indiana (1.15%) and Tennessee (1.23%). At the high end of the scale were Massachusetts (2.77%), Illinois (2.80%), Connecticut (3.24%), Pennsylvania (3.45%), New Jersey (3.48%) and Alaska (4.65%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted and cover the week ended January 2.

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) 01/16/16 01/09/16 01/02/16 Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 293 283 277 -1.5 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,208 2,264 -8.4 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.7

(Jan. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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