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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Unexpectedly Decline Sharply
by Tom Moeller  April 21, 2016

Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 247,000 during the week ended April 16 from an unrevised 253,000 in the prior week. For the past year, claims have been near the lowest level since 1973. Expectations were for 264,000 applications in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of claims declined to 260,500.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey period for April nonfarm payrolls, and claims declined 12,000 (-4.6%) versus March. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

In the week ending April 9, continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 2.137 million (-7.4% y/y) from 2.176 million. The four-week moving average fell to 2.169 million, a new low for the economic expansion.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 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 (0.58%), South Dakota (0.59%), North Carolina (0.63%), South Carolina (0.79%), Tennessee (0.85%) and Virginia (0.88%). At the high end of the scale were Massachusetts (2.38%), Illinois (2.42%), Connecticut (2.50%), Pennsylvania (2.60%), New Jersey (2.94%) and Alaska (4.06%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted.

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) 04/16/16 04/09/16 04/02/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 247 253 266 -13.5% 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,137 2,176 -7.4 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.6

(Apr. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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