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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Applications Increase
by Tom Moeller  February 23, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to 244,000 (-7.6% y/y) during the week ended February 18 from 238,000 claims in the week prior, revised from 239,000. Expectations had been for 240,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of claims declined to 241,000, the lowest level since July 1973.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey period for February nonfarm payrolls, and there was a 7,000 increase in claims (3.0%) versus the January period. 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 2.060 million (-7.7% y/y) in the week of February 11 from 2.077 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 2.070 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 February 4, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.55%), North Carolina (0.66%), Tennessee (0.82%), Virginia (0.83%), South Carolina (0.87%) and Nebraska (0.92%). The highest rates were found in California (2.59%), Pennsylvania (2.72%), Connecticut (2.86%), New Jersey (3.08%), Montana (3.10%) and Alaska (4.54%). 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) 02/18/17 02/11/17 02/04/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 244 238 234 -7.6 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,060 2,077 -7.7 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.5

(Feb. 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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