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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Return to Nine-Week Low
by Tom Moeller  July 20, 2017

Initial claims for jobless insurance claims fell to 233,000 (-4.4%) during the week ended July 15 from 248,000 in the prior week, revised from 247,000. Expectations called for 245,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. It was the lowest level of claims since the second week of May, and near the 1973 low. The four-week moving average declined to 243,750.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for the July employment survey. Claims were down 9,000 (3.7%) from the June period. 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 increased to 1.977 million (-7.6% y/y) in the week ended July 8 and reversed the prior week's decline. The four-week moving average of claimants increased to 1.959 million, the highest level since late-April.

The insured unemployment rate remained at the record low of 1.4%.

Insured rates of unemployment continue to vary widely across the country. For the week ended July 1, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.29%), Indiana (0.50%), Nebraska (0.53%), North Carolina (0.55%), Florida (0.60%) and Tennessee (0.79%). The highest rates were found in New Jersey (2.47%), Connecticut (2.34%), Alaska (2.29%), Massachusetts (1.88%), California (1.85%) and Illinois (1.72%). These state data are not seasonally adjusted.

The unemployment insurance claims data begin January 2, 1971. 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) 07/15/17 07/08/17 7/01/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 233 248 250 -4.4 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,977 1,949 -7.6 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.4

(July 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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