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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Fall to 1973 Low
by Tom Moeller  March 2, 2017

Initial unemployment insurance claims declined to 223,000 during the week ended February 25 from 242,000 claims in the week prior, revised from 244,000. The latest level was the lowest since March 1973. Expectations had been for 245,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of claims declined to 244,250. 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 in the week ended February 18 increased to 2.066 million (-7.4% y/y) from 2.063 million. The four-week moving average of claimants nudged up to 2.071 million. Continuing claims have been near the June 2000 low for several months.

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 11, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.54%), North Carolina (0.65%), Tennessee (0.81%), Virginia (0.84%), South Carolina (0.85%) and Nebraska (0.90%). The highest rates were found in California (2.65%), Pennsylvania (2.88%), Connecticut (2.95%), New Jersey (3.17%), Montana (3.13%) and Alaska (4.44%). 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.

Transitions in the Outlook and Monetary Policy from Fed Governor Lael Brainard can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 02/25/17 02/18/17 02/11/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 223 242 238 -14.9 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,066 2,063 -7.4 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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