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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Zigzag Lower
by Gerald D. Cohen  July 25, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 10,000 to 206,000 (-5.1% year-on-year) during the week ending July 20 from an unrevised 216,000. Two weeks ago, claims dropped to 208,000, though it included the July 4th holiday when seasonal adjustment and reporting challenges make this data more difficult to interpret. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 218,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility fell to 213,000 from 218,750. Still, the 4-week average remains above the 50-year low of 201,500 reached in April.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance decreased 13,000 to 1.676 million (-4.0% y/y) in the week ending July 13, from a slightly upwardly-revised 1.689 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants declined to 1.697 million from 1.702 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 July 6, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.29%), Indiana (0.45%), Florida (0.47%), and North Carolina (0.47%) and Utah (0.47%). The highest rates were in California (1.76%), Pennsylvania (1.98%), Rhode Island (2.00%), Connecticut (2.23%) and New Jersey (2.47%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above the rate was 1.06% in Texas and 1.52% in New York. These state data are not seasonally adjusted and may have been especially impacted by the July 4th holiday.

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) 07/20/19 07/13/19 07/06/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 206 216 208 -5.1 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,676 1,689 -4.0 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jul 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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