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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Highest Since June
by Carol Stone, CBE  November 14, 2019

Initial applications for unemployment insurance rose to 225,000 (+0.3% y/y) during the week ended November 9 from 211,000 in the prior week, which was unrevised. The latest week is hardly a large number, but it is the highest since June 22. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims increased to 217,000 from 215,250. During the last 20 years, there has been a 71% correlation between the number of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 1.683 million during the week ended November 2 from 1.693 million in the week prior, revised from 1.689 million. The four-week moving average of claimants held steady at 1.688 million.

In the week ending November 2, the insured rate of unemployment was again at 1.2%. The record low for this rate is 1.1%, which prevailed for two weeks in mid-September. Data on the insured unemployment rate dates back to 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. During the week ending October 26, the lowest rates were in Nebraska (0.19%), South Dakota (0.21%), North Dakota (0.40%), Florida (0.41%) and New Hampshire (0.43%). The highest rates were in Pennsylvania (1.48%), Connecticut (1.53%), California (1.56%), New Jersey (1.82%), and Alaska (2.07%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 1.28% in Illinois, 0.94% in Texas and 1.16% 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) 11/09/19 11/02/19 10/26/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 225 211 219 0.3 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,683 1,693 0.3 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Nov 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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