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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Ease; Rate Sustains Record Low
by Carol Stone, CBE  May 31, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 221,000 (-12.6% y/y) during the week ended May 26 following an increase to 234,000 during the prior week, which was not revised. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey were for 227,000 claims. The four-week moving average rose to 222,250. During the last ten years, there has been a 73% correlation between the level of initial claims and the month-to-month change in nonfarm payroll employment.

In the week ending May 19, continuing claims for unemployment insurance eased to 1.726 million (-10.7% y/y) from a marginally revised 1.742 million. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.744 million from 1.752 million; this is the lowest since December 1973. The individual weekly number is hovering in lowest range since that period 44-1/2 years ago.

The insured rate of unemployment held steady at the record low of 1.2% for a third consecutive week and the fourth of the last five weeks.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended May 12, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.27%), Nebraska (0.37%), North Carolina (0.44%), Florida (0.46%) and Indiana (0.47%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.69%), Connecticut (1.90%), California (2.01%), New Jersey (2.02%) and Alaska (2.77%). 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) 05/26/18 05/19/18 05/12/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 221 234 223 -12.6 245 262 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,726 1,742 -10.7 1,961 2,135 2,266
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(May 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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