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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline
by Tom Moeller  August 18, 2016

The labor market remains firm. Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 262,000 (-5.8% y/y) during the week ended August 13 following unrevised claims of 266,000 in the prior week. Claims remained near the lowest level since 1973. The four-week moving average rose to 265,250, its highest level since late-June. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 265,000 claims in the latest week.

The latest figure covers to survey week for August nonfarm payrolls, and there was a 10,000 rise (4.0%) versus the July survey week. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for jobless benefits increased to 2.175 million (-3.8% y/y) during the week ended August 6, from 2.160 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average rose to 2.155 million, also near a four-decade low.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.6%, near the lowest level since 2000.

Insured rates of unemployment continued to vary across states. Near the low end of the range were South Dakota (0.35%), North Carolina (0.67%), Florida (0.73%), New Hampshire (0.78%), Virginia (0.82%) and Maine (0.87%). At the high end of the scale were Texas (1.64%), New Mexico (1.74%), Massachusetts (1.87%), Pennsylvania (2.49%), Alaska (2.59%) and New Jersey (2.73%). 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) 08/13/16 08/06/16 07/30/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 262 266 267 -5.8% 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,175 2,160 -3.8 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.6 1.6

(Aug. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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