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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decrease Modestly
by Carol Stone, CBE  October 10, 2019

Initial claims for unemployment insurance eased to 210,000 (-0.9% y/y) during the week ended October 5 from 220,000 in the previous week, revised from 219,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 217,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose 1,000 to 213,750. During the last twenty years, there has been a 68% correlation between the number of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 1.684 million (+1.0% y/y) in the week ending September 28 from 1.655 million in the prior week, revised from 1.651 million. Modest as the year-to-year increase is, it is the first positive such comparison since January 2010. The four-week moving average of claimants was 1.665 million, up from 1.662 million the week before.

The insured rate of unemployment for the week ending September 28 ticked back up to its longstanding 1.2% after holding for two weeks at 1.1%, which is the record low. Data on the insured unemployment rate go back to 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending September 21, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.19%), Nebraska (0.23%), North Dakota (0.32%), New Hampshire (0.41%) and Utah (0.41%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.47%), Alaska (1.54%), Connecticut (1.55%), California (1.62%), and New Jersey (1.80%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 0.93% in Texas, 0.46% in Florida, and 1.11% 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) 10/05/19 09/28/19 09/21/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 210 220 215 -0.9 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,684 1,655 1.0 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.1

(Sep 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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