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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Claims Rise, But Not Meaningfully
by Sandy Batten  June 27, 2019

Initial unemployment insurance claims increased 10,000 to 227,000 in the week ended June 22 from a slightly upwardly revised 217,000 (originally 216,000) the previous week. Claims continue to fluctuate around their lowest level in 50 years, and so this increase is not cause for concern. The consensus expectation from the Action Economics Survey was for claims to total 218,000. The June 22 rise may be somewhat idiosyncratic as it was concentrated in outsized jumps in claims filed in two states, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The four-week moving average of initial claims also rose, to 221,250 from 219,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance increased to 1.688 million in the week ended June 15 from 1.666 million the previous week, which was revised up from 1.662 million initially. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose 6,500 to 1.687 million. While this figure remains subdued by historical standards, this was the highest four-week average reading since April 13.

The insured unemployment rate remained at a record low of 1.2% in the week ending June 15, where it has been for since May 2018. This weekly series dates back to 1971. Monthly data start in 1949 and the current 1.2% level is also the lowest ever on that basis.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. In the week ending June 8, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.25%), Nebraska (0.41%), Florida (0.41%), Indiana (0.44%), North Carolina (0.45%) and New Hampshire (0.45%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.64%), Connecticut (1.72%), California (1.76%), New Jersey (1.89%) and Alaska (1.97%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 1.00% in Texas, 1.22% in New York and 1.44% in Illinois. 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 in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 06/22/19 06/15/19 06/08/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 227 217 222 1.8 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,688 1,666 -2.0 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jun 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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