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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Edge Higher; Four-Week Moving Average Falls to 45-Year Low
by Gerald D. Cohen  May 3, 2018

Initial claims for unemployment insurance edged higher to 211,000 (-12.8% y/y) in the week ending April 28, from an unrevised 209,000 in the prior week. Claims had fallen sharply in the week ending April 21 and the Action Economics Forecast Survey expected them to rebound to 226,000. The four-week moving average declined to 221,500 from 229,250. This is the lowest four-week moving average of claims since March 1973. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of initial claims and the month-to-month change in nonfarm payroll employment.

In the week ending April 21, continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 1.756 million (-11.3% y/y) from 1.833 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.833 million from 1.849 million. Both continuing claims and their four-week average are at their lowest level since December 1973

The insured rate of unemployment edged down to a new record low of 1.2%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ending April 14, the lowest rates of insured unemployed were Nebraska (0.46%), North Carolina (0.46%), Florida (0.47%), Indiana (0.55%), South Dakota (0.56%), and Tennessee (0.57%). The highest rates were in Illinois (1.94%), Pennsylvania (2.07%), California (2.32%), New Jersey (2.37%), Connecticut (2.45%), and Alaska (3.21%). 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) 04/28/18 04/21/18 04/14/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 211 209 233 -12.8 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,756 1,833 -11.3 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.3

(Apr. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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