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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline to 1973 Low
by Tom Moeller  January 18, 2018

Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to 220,000 (+2.0% y/y) during the week ended January 13 following an unrevised 261,000 claims in the week prior. The latest reading was the lowest in 45 years. Expectations had been for a decline to 250,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average fell to 244,500.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for January nonfarm payrolls. There was a 10.2% decline in claims versus the December 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.

In the week ended January 6, continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased to 1.952 million (-4.7% y/y), the highest level since mid-November. The four-week moving average of claimants rose to 1.921 million, but remained near the lowest level since January 1974.

The insured unemployment rate inched higher to 1.4%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended January 6, North Carolina (0.51%), Indiana (0.69%), South Dakota (0.77%), Nebraska (0.91%), Virginia (0.75%) and Georgia (1.06%) were at the low end of the range. At the high end were California (2.10%), Pennsylvania (2.46%), Montana (2.65%), Connecticut (2.78%), New Jersey (2.89%) and Alaska (4.01%). 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) 01/13/18 01/06/18 12/30/17 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 220 261 250 2.0 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,952 1,876 -4.7 1,962 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.3

(Jan. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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