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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Ease
by Carol Stone, CBE  December 6, 2018

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 4,000 to 231,000 (-1.7% y/y) during the week ended December 1 from 235,000 in the previous week, which was revised up by 1,000. As was noted here last week, even though the data are adjusted for seasonal factors, the early date for Thanksgiving may have affected these readings. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 225,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 228,000, the largest since the April 21 week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell 74,000 to 1.631 million (-14.7% y/y) in the week ending November 24, from a slightly downwardly revised 1.705 million in the prior week (originally reported at 1.710 million. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose by 250 people to 1,667,000.

The weekly drop in continuing claims reduced the insured unemployment rate back to the record low of 1.1% reached during October. Data on the insured unemployment rate go back to 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending November 17, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.27%), Nebraska (0.35%), North Carolina (0.39%), Florida (0.41%) and Indiana (0.43%). The highest rates were in California and Illinois (1.53%), Pennsylvania (1.57%), Connecticut (1.63%), New Jersey (1.94%) and Alaska (2.86%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 0.87% in Texas and 1.29% in New York. These state data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment claims going back to 1967 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) 12/01/18 11/24/18 11/17/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 231 235 225 -1.7 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,631 1,705 -14.7 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.1 1.2

(Nov. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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