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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline
by Tom Moeller  January 28, 2016

Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 278,000 (+5.3% y/y) during the week ended January 23 following 294,000 claims in the prior week, revised from 293,000. The four-week moving average now stands at 283,000, and has moved up slightly since late last year. Still, claims remained near the lowest level since 1973. Consensus expectations were for 280,000 applications in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. 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 16, continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 2.268 million (-4.8% y/y) and reversed the prior week's decline. The four-week moving average rose to 2.246 million, the highest level since early-September.

The insured rate of unemployment nudged higher to 1.7%, about where it's been since March.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. Near the low end of the range were Florida (0.66%), North Carolina (0.81%), South Dakota (0.88%), Virginia (1.02%), Tennessee (1.08%) and Indiana (1.27%). At the high end of the scale were Massachusetts (2.70%), Illinois (2.84%), Connecticut (3.02%), New Jersey (3.17%), Pennsylvania (3.21%) and Alaska (4.83%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted and cover the week ended January 9.

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) 01/23/16 01/16/16 01/09/16 Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 278 294 283 5.3 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,268 2,219 -4.8 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.7 1.6

(Jan. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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