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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Increase
by Tom Moeller  December 21, 2017

Initial unemployment insurance claims rose to 245,000 (-8.9% y/y) in the week ended December 16 from an unrevised 225,000 in the prior week. It was the highest level of claims in five weeks. Expectations had been for 232,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average rose to 236,000.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for December nonfarm payrolls. There was a 5,000 increase (2.1%) from the November survey period. 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 rose to 1.932 million (-6.5% y/y) in the week ended December 9 from 1.889 million in the week prior. The four-week moving average of claimants rose slightly to 1.923 million, but remained near the lowest level since January 1974.

The insured unemployment rate rose slightly to 1.4% but remained near the record low.

Insured rates of unemployment varied across the country. For the week ended December 2, near the low end of the range were South Dakota (0.48%), Nebraska (0.50%), Indiana (0.52%), Virginia (0.66%), Georgia (0.66%) and Colorado (0.84%). At the high end were New York (1.53%), Illinois (1.74%), Massachusetts (1.81%), Pennsylvania (2.10%), California (2.02%) and New Jersey (2.28%). 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) 12/16/17 12/09/17 12/02/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 245 225 236 -8.9 263 278 308
Continuing Claims 1,932 1,889 -6.5 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) 1.4 1.3

(Nov. 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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