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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Unexpectedly Touch Five-Week High
by Tom Moeller  May 5, 2016

Labor market improvement stuttered again last week. Initial claims for jobless insurance increased to 274,000 (3.0% y/y) during the week ended April 30, after rising to an unrevised 257,000 in the prior week. It was the highest level of claims since the end of March. Expectations were for 256,000 applications in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of claims rose to 258,000, but remained near the lowest level since 1973. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

In the week ending April 23, continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased to 2.121 million (-5.0% y/y) from 2.129 million. The four-week moving average fell to 2.140 million, the lowest level since November 2000.

The insured rate of unemployment declined to 1.5%, a new low for the economic recovery.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. Near the low end of the range were South Dakota (0.41%), Florida (0.61%), North Carolina (0.63%), South Carolina (0.74%), Tennessee (0.78%) and Virginia (0.82%). At the high end of the scale were Rhode Island (2.09%), Massachusetts (2.15%), Illinois (2.20%), Pennsylvania (2.44%), Connecticut (2.48%) and New Jersey (2.60%). 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.

The Yield Curve and Predicted GDP Growth, March 2016 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 04/30/16 04/23/16 04/16/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 274 257 248 3.0% 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,121 2,129 -5.0% 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.6

(Apr. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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