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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Fall Back; Continuing Claims Hit 29-Year Low
by Carol Stone, CBE  May 4, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped back to 238,000 during the week ended April 29 from 257,000 in the prior week, which was unrevised. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey had called for 246,000 claims. The four-week moving average edged up from 242,250 to 243,000. During the last ten years, there has been a 72% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended April 22 decreased to 1.964 million (-8.1% y/y) from 1.987 million. The four-week moving average of claimants fell to 1.989 million, the lowest level since November 1988.

The insured unemployment rate held at 1.4%, holding the record low. These data begin January 2, 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended April 15, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.46%), Florida (0.47%), North Carolina (0.49%), Nebraska (0.50%) and Tennessee (0.60%). The highest rates were found in Alaska (3.46%), Connecticut (2.69%), New Jersey (2.64%), California (2.40%) and Illinois (2.15%). These 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 Forecast Survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 04/29/17 04/22/17 04/15/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 238 257 243 -13.8 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,964 1,987 -8.1 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.4

(Apr 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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