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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Surge
by Tom Moeller  May 12, 2016

The labor market is under pressure. Initial claims for unemployment insurance jumped to 294,000 (7.8% y/y) during the week ended May 7, after rising to an unrevised 274,000 in the prior week. It was the highest level of claims since February 2015. Expectations were for 267,000 applications in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of claims rose to 268,250, the highest level since early-February. 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 30, continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased to 2.161 million (-2.9% y/y) from 2.124 million. The four-week moving average fell to 2.137 million, the lowest level since November 2000.

The insured rate of unemployment held steady at 1.6%, also the lowest level since 2000.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continued to vary. Near the low end of the range were South Dakota (0.39%), Florida (0.59%), North Carolina (0.62%), South Carolina (0.73%), Tennessee (0.77%) and Virginia (0.81%). At the high end of the scale were Illinois (2.07%), Pennsylvania (2.28%), Massachusetts (2.32%), Rhode Island (2.37%), Connecticut (2.41%) and New Jersey (2.49%). 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.

U.S. Labor Market Resilient as Output Slumps (Again) from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/07/16 04/30/16 04/23/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 294 274 257 7.8% 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,161 2,124 -2.9% 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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