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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Remain at 50-Year Low
by Tom Moeller  May 10, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance claims were steady w/w at 211,000 (-11.6% y/y) in the week ending May 5. Claims were expected to rise to 219,000 in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average declined to 216,000, the lowest four-week average of claims since December 1969. 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 28, continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 1.790 million (-7.1% y/y) from a revised 1.760 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.813 million from 1.815 million. Both continuing claims and their four-week average are at their lowest level since December 1973

The insured rate of unemployment edged up to 1.3%.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ending April 21, the lowest rates of insured unemployed were Nebraska (0.42%), North Carolina (0.45%), Florida (0.45%), South Dakota (0.48%), Indiana (0.53%) and Tennessee (0.56%). The highest rates were in Illinois (1.76%), Pennsylvania (1.77%), California (2.02%), New Jersey (2.22%), Connecticut (2.32%), and Alaska (3.01%). 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) 05/05/18 04/28/18 04/21/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 211 211 209 -11.6 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,790 1,760 -7.1 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.3 1.2

(Apr. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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