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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Trend Lower
by Tom Moeller  March 10, 2016

Initial unemployment insurance claims declined to 259,000 during the week ended March 5 from 277,000 in the prior week, revised from 278,000. It was the lowest level of initial claims since early October. Expectations were for 272,000 applications in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four week moving average of claims fell to 267,500, also the lowest point since October. 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 February 27, continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 2.225 million (-7.3% y/y) from 2.257 million. The four-week moving average eased to 2.252 million.

The insured rate of unemployment fell to 1.6%, the low point of the economic recovery.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. Near the low end of the range were Florida (0.63%), North Carolina (0.76%), Georgia (0.88%), Virginia (1.01%), Arizona (1.05%) and Tennessee (1.07%). At the high end of the scale were Illinois (2.84%), Massachusetts (3.01%), Connecticut (3.11%), Pennsylvania (3.13%), New Jersey (3.36%) and Alaska (4.58%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted and cover the week ended January 16.

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) 03/05/16 02/27/16 02/20/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 259 277 272 -10.8% 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,225 2,257 -7.3 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.7

(Feb. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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