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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Claims Fall Sharply
by Tom Moeller  January 19, 2017

Initial unemployment insurance filings declined to 234,000 during the week ended January 14 from 249,000 in the prior week, revised from 247,000. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey called for 252,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims fell to 246,750, the lowest point since November 1973.

The latest claims figure covers the survey period for January nonfarm payrolls, and they fell 14.9% from the December survey week. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 2.046 million (-7.7% y/y) in the week of January 7 from 2.093 million. The four-week moving average of claimants increased slightly to 2.090 million and has risen slightly during the prior two months.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.5%, which is also the average since September. The record low of this 45-year-old series was 1.4% in the week ended November 5.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended December 31, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.54%), North Carolina (0.63%), Tennessee (0.80%), Virginia (0.83%), South Dakota (0.87%) and Nebraska (0.98%). The highest rates were found in California (2.33%), Connecticut (2.61%), Pennsylvania (2.67%), Montana (3.01%), New Jersey (3.14%) and Alaska (4.38%). 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) 01/14/17 01/07/17 12/31/16 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 234 249 237 -8.6 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,046 2,093 -7.7 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.5

(Jan. 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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