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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Ease
by Tom Moeller  March 16, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 241,000 (-6.9% y/y) during the week ended March 11 from an unrevised 243,000 claims in the week prior. The latest level remained near the lowest since April 1973. Expectations had been for 240,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of claims nudged higher to 237,250. 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 March 4 declined to 2.030 million (-8.2% y/y) from 2.060 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 2.054 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 25, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.52%), North Carolina (0.60%), Tennessee (0.79%), South Carolina (0.79%), Virginia (0.80%) and Nebraska (0.82%). The highest rates were found in California (2.68%), Pennsylvania (2.79%), Montana (2.95%), Connecticut (2.97%), New Jersey (3.13%) and Alaska (4.21%). 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) 03/11/17 03/04/17 02/25/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 241 243 223 -6.9 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,030 2,060 -8.2 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.5

(Mar. 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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