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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Near 40-Year Low
by Tom Moeller  September 22, 2016

Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 252,000 (-7.0% y/y) in the week ending September 17 from an unrevised 260,000 in the prior week. The figure was near the lowest level since October 1973. The four-week moving average fell to 258,500. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 262,000 claims in the latest week.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for September nonfarm payrolls, and claims fell 6,750 (2.5%) from the August period. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the monthly change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for jobless benefits fell to 2.113 million (-5.8% y/y) in the week ended September 10. The four-week moving average fell to 2.140 million, near a four-decade low.

The insured rate of unemployment fell to 1.5%, and returned to the record low.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to be quite disparate. The state data are not seasonally adjusted and are reported with a two-week lag. For the week ended September 3, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.28%), Nebraska (0.42%), North Carolina (0.60%), Utah (0.61%), Maine (0.76%) and South Carolina (0.84%). The highest rates were found in Illinois (1.67%), Massachusetts (1.83%), Pennsylvania (2.07%), Connecticut (2.24%), Alaska (2.54%) and New Jersey (2.63%).

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) 09/17/16 09/10/16 09/3/16 Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 252 260 259 -7.0 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,113 2,149 -5.8 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.6

(Sep. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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