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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Rise
by Tom Moeller  January 4, 2018

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to 250,000 (0.4% y/y) during the week ended December 30 following 247,000 claims in the week prior, revised from 247,000. Expectations had been for 239,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. It was the highest level of initial claims since the second week of November. The four-week moving average rose to 241,750. In all of last year initial claims declined to 245,000, down from 574,000 at the 2009 peak. 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.

In the week ended December 23, continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 1.914 million (-7.9% y/y) from 1.951million in the week prior. The four-week moving average of claimants held steady at1.923 million, remaining near the lowest level since January 1974.

The insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 1.4% and remained near the record low of 1.3%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended December 22, Florida (0.50%), North Carolina (0.51%), Nebraska (0.61%), South Dakota (0.63%), Georgia (0.67%) and Virginia (0.68%) were at the low end of the range. At the high end were Pennsylvania (2.07%), Montana (2.16%), California (2.11%), Connecticut (2.24%), New Jersey (2.43%) and Alaska (3.88%). 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) 12/30/17 12/23/17 12/16/17 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 250 247 225 0.4 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,914 1,951 -7.9 -- 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.4

(Dec. 2016)

-- 1.6 1.7
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