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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Bounce Off 50-Year Low
by Gerald D. Cohen  April 25, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance jumped 37,000 to 230,000 (9.5% year-on-year) during the week ended April 20 from a slightly upwardly-revised 50-year low of 193,000 in the previous week (was 192,000). The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 200,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims increased to 206,000. While these statistics suggest a healthy labor market, they also are indicative of a less positive trend, a structural decline in job turnover which accompanies a less dynamic economy.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance edged up 1,000 to 1.655 million (-9.0% y/y) in the week ending April 13, from the slightly upwardly-revised 1.654 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants decreased to 1.688 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at the record low 1.2%, where it has been since May 2018. Data on the insured unemployment rate go back to 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending April 6, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.39%), Nebraska (0.44%) North Carolina (0.45%), South Dakota (0.51%) and Virginia (0.52%). The highest rates were in Rhode Island (1.89%), California (2.03%), Connecticut (2.03%), New Jersey (2.23%), and Alaska (2.57%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above the rate was 0.9% in Texas, 1.43% in New York and 1.75% in Pennsylvania. 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) 04/20/19 04/13/19 04/06/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 230 193 197 9.5 220 244 262
Continuing Claims -- 1,655 1,654 -9.0 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Apr. 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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