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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Underpin Labor Market Strength
by Tom Moeller  November 17, 2016

Labor market improvement is nowhere more evident than in fewer claims for jobless insurance. Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 235,000 (-14.5% y/y) during the week ended November 12 following an unrevised fall to 254,000 claims in the week prior. It was the lowest level of claims since November 1973. The four-week moving average of claims fell to 253,500. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 260,000 claims in the latest week.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for November nonfarm payrolls, and there was a 26,000 decline (-10.0%) versus the same period in October. 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 declined 3.2% to 1.977 million (-9.4% y/y) in the week ended November 5, the lowest point since April 2000. The four-week moving average declined to 2.023 million.

The insured rate of unemployment declined to a record low of 1.4%.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary. For the week ended October 29, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.31%), Nebraska (0.45%), Utah (0.60%), North Carolina (0.61%), South Carolina (0.76%) and Maine (0.77%). The highest rates were found in Illinois (1.57%), Massachusetts (1.67%), Pennsylvania (1.86%), Connecticut (2.00%), New Jersey (2.23%) and Alaska (3.36`%). 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.

Escaping Unemployment Traps from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 11/12/16 11/05/16 10/29/16 Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 235 254 266 -14.5 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 1,977 2,043 -9.4 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.5

(Oct. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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