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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Jump
by Tom Moeller  December 22, 2016

Initial claims for unemployment insurance strengthened to 275,000 (2.2% y/y) in the week ended December 17 following an unrevised slip to 254,000 in the prior week. It was the highest level of claims since June. Expectations had been for 257,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of claims rose to 263,750.

The latest claims figure covers the survey period for December nonfarm payroll employment. There has been a 42,000 (18.0%) rise versus the November survey week. 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 unemployment insurance increased to 2.036 million (-7.2% y/y) from 2.021 million. The four-week moving average of claimants was little changed at 2.037 million.

The insured rate of unemployment held near the record low at 1.5%.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary. For the week ended December 3, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.51%), Nebraska (0.57%), North Carolina (0.59%), South Dakota (0.62%), Georgia (0.75%) and Indiana (0.77%). The highest rates were found in Illinois (1.85%), Massachusetts (1.88%), Connecticut (2.20%), Pennsylvania (2.28%), New Jersey (2.43%) and Alaska (4.04%). 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 (SA, 000s) 12/17/16 12/10/16 12/03/16 Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Initial Claims 275 254 258 2.2 277 307 342
Continuing Claims -- 2,036 2,021 -7.2 2,268 2,607 2,978
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.5

(Dec. 2015)

1.7 2.0 2.3
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