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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Applications Touch 1973 Low
by Tom Moeller  October 19, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 222,000 during the week ended October 14 following a decline to 244,000 in the prior week. The Labor Department indicated that insurance applications were "severely disrupted" in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands due to power outages caused by recent hurricanes. The latest figure was the lowest level of initial claims since 1973. Expectations had been for 250,000 first-time claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average declined to 248,250, its lowest point in over a month.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 1.888 million (-8.7% y/y) in the week ended October 7 from 1.904 million the week before. The four-week moving average of claimants fell to 1.906 million.

The insured unemployment rate fell to a record low of 1.3% from a revised 1.4%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely across the country. For the week ended September 30, the recently high insured rate of unemployment in Texas declined sharply to 1.16% and neared its recent low. The lowest insured rates of unemployment were in South Dakota (0.22%), Nebraska (0.40%), Indiana (0.45%), North Carolina (0.47%), Utah (0.49%) and Florida (0.62%). The highest rates continued to be in Massachusetts (1.50%), Pennsylvania (1.60%), Connecticut (1.80%), California (1.82%), New Jersey (2.01%) and Alaska (2.19%). 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) 10/14/17 10/07/17 09/30/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 222 244 258 -12.3 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,888 1,904 -8.7 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.3 1.4

(Oct 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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