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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline
by Tom Moeller  May 19, 2016

Initial unemployment jobless claims fell to 278,000 (+0.7% y/y) during the week ended May 14, and retraced most of the prior week's run-up to an unrevised 294,000. The decline followed three weeks of increase. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 275,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims rose to 275,750, the highest point since early February.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for May nonfarm payrolls, and claims rose 30,000 (12.1%) from the April period. 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 May 7, continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 2.152 million (-3.6% y/y) from 2.165 million. The four-week moving average ticked up to 2.143 million, but remained near 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 (0.38%), Florida (0.58%), North Carolina (0.62%), South Carolina (0.74%), Tennessee (0.81%) and Virginia (0.84%). At the high end of the scale were Rhode Island (1.95%), Massachusetts (2.02%), Connecticut (2.18%), Illinois (2.19%), Pennsylvania (2.25%) and New Jersey (2.45%). 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) 05/14/16 05/07/16 04/30/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 278 294 274 0.7% 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,152 2,165 -3.6 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.6

(May 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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