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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Rise 1,000; Continuing Claims Hover in Lowest Range since Mid-1970s
by Carol Stone, CBE  August 31, 2017

Initial applications for unemployment insurance rose to 236,000 (-9.2% y/y) during the week ended August 26 from 235,000 the prior week; that was revised marginally from 234,000 initially reported. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey were for 237,000 claims in the latest week. The four-week moving average eased to 236,750 from 238,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 1.942 million (-9.5% y/y) in the week ended August 19, after being unchanged at 1.954 million the week before. The four-week moving average of claimants as of August 19 fell to 1.951 million. Numbers in this range just below 2 million have lasted all summer long. There were occasional weeks below 2 million in 2000 and 1988. Otherwise, the last protracted period of that magnitude was in 1974, when the population and the economy were, of course, mere fractions of their sizes now.

Thus, the insured unemployment rate remained at its record low of 1.4%.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely across the country. For the week ended August 12, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.30%), Indiana (0.50%), Nebraska (0.52%), Utah (0.54%) and North Carolina (0.56%). The highest rates were found in California (2.05%), Alaska (2.19%), Pennsylvania (2.24%), Connecticut (2.45%) and New Jersey (2.65%). These state data are not seasonally adjusted.

Note that these individual state rates are reported with a lag, so effects of Hurricane Harvey on the states of Texas and Louisiana may well not show up until the report issued on September 14. Next week's report would, of course, include some effects on the national totals.

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) 08/26/17 08/19/17 08/12/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 236 235 232 -9.2 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,942 1,954 -9.5 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.4

(Aug 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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