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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Edge Higher
by Gerald D. Cohen  August 30, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance claims increased to 213,000 during the week ended August 25 from an unrevised 210,000 during the prior week. The Action Economics Forecast Survey called for a 215,000 reading. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 212,250 the lowest level since December 1969. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the month-on-month change in nonfarm payrolls.

In the week ending August 18, continuing claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 1.708 million from the slightly upwardly revised 1.728 million a week earlier. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.731 million from 1.736 million in the prior week.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at its record low of 1.2%, where it's been since early May.

Insured rates of unemployment varied widely by state. During the week ended August 11, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.25%), Nebraska (0.43%), Indiana (0.44%), North Carolina (0.48%) and North Dakota (0.48%). The highest rates were in New Jersey (2.47%), Connecticut (2.24%), Pennsylvania (2.06%), and Rhode Island (1.92%). Among the largest states by population, the rate was 1.90% in California (this was also the fifth highest rate in the country), 1.04% in Texas, 1.47% in New York, and 0.56% in Florida. 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) 08/25/18 08/18/18 08/11/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 213 210 212 -10.5 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,708 1,728 -12.3 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Aug 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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