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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline
by Tom Moeller  December 13, 2018

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 206,000 (-7.6% y/y) during the week ended December 8 from 233,000 during the prior week, revised from 231,000. Initial claims were near the lowest level since 1969. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 227,000 initial claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims eased to 224,750. During the last ten years there has been a 73% between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 1.661 million (-11.7% y/y) in the week ending December 1, from a little-revised 1.636 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of continuing claims slipped to 1.666 million.

The insured unemployment rate ticked higher to 1.2% but remained near the record low. The insured unemployment figures date back to 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending November 24, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.35%), Nebraska (0.41%), North Carolina (0.44%), Indiana (0.49%) and Florida (0.51%). The highest rates were in Illinois (1.53%), Pennsylvania (1.71%), Connecticut (1.82%), California (1.85%), New Jersey (2.16%) and Alaska (3.13%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 0.91% in Ohio, 1.01% in Texas, 1.50% in New York, 0.69% in Georgia and 0.54% in Virginia. 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) 12/08/18 12/01/18 11/24/18 Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Initial Claims 206 233 235 -7.6 245 263 278
Continuing Claims -- 1,661 1,636 -11.7 1,961 2,136 2,267
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.1

(Dec. 2017)

1.4 1.6 1.7
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