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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Remain Low
by Tom Moeller  September 13, 2018

Initial unemployment insurance applications decreased to 204,000 (-23.6% y/y) during the week ended September 8 from 205,000 in the prior week, revised from 203,000. It remained the lowest level since December 1969. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a rise to 210,000 applications. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 208,000. 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 September 1, continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 1.696 million (-12.1% y/y from a little-changed 1.711 million a week earlier. It was the lowest level since November 1973. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.711 million.

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 September 1, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.20%), Nebraska (0.33%), North Dakota (0.41%), Indiana (0.44%) and North Carolina (0.45%). The highest rates were in Rhode Island (1.86%), Pennsylvania (1.95%), Connecticut (2.20%) and New Jersey (2.45%). Among the largest states by population, the rate was 1.82% in California, 1.53% in New York, 1.00% in Texas and 0.52% 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) 09/08/18 09/01/18 08/25/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 204 205 213 -23.6 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,696 1,711 -12.1 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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