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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline
by Tom Moeller  February 9, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 234,000 (-9.7% y/y) during the week ended February 4 from an unrevised 246,000 claims in the prior week. It was the lowest level in twelve weeks. The four-week moving average of claims fell to 244,250, the lowest level since October 1973. Expectations had been for 249,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. 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 increased to 2.078 million (-7.0% y/y) in the week of January 28 from 2.063 million. The four-week moving average of claimants eased to 2.076 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.5%, which has been the average since September.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended January 21, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.56%), North Carolina (0.67%), Tennessee (0.81%), Virginia (0.83%), South Dakota (0.94%) and Nebraska (0.98%). The highest rates were found in California (2.64%), Pennsylvania (2.69%), Connecticut (3.09%), New Jersey (3.10%), Montana (3.13%) and Alaska (4.78%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted.

New Year Brings Economic Promises and Challenges from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

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) 02/04/17 01/28/17 01/21/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 234 246 260 -9.7 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,078 2,063 -7.0 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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