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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Edge Down by 2,000
by Carol Stone, CBE  January 2, 2020

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 2,000 in the week ended December 28 to 222,000 (-3.9% y/y) from the prior week's 224,000, which was revised upward by 2,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 220,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 233,250 from 228,500.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended December 21 rose 5,000 to 1.728 million (unchanged y/y) from the prior week's 1.723 million. That figure was revised up by 4,000. The four-week moving average of claimants rose to 1.712 million from 1.704 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% in the week of December 21. Except for two weeks in September and one week in mid-November, when the rate was at 1.1%, it has been 1.2% since May 2018.

Insured unemployment rates vary widely by state. During the week ending December 14, the lowest rates were in Nebraska (0.36%), Florida (0.43%), North Carolina (0.47%), Virginia (0.52%) and Tennessee (0.53%). The highest rates were in Montana (2.02%), Pennsylvania (2.06%), West Virginia (2.13%), New Jersey (2.23%), and Alaska (3.19%). Among the other largest states by population not mentioned above, the rate was 1.10% in Texas, 1.48% in New York and 1.89% in California. These state data are not seasonally adjusted, thus Alaska has particularly large seasonal swings in insured rates of unemployment.

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) 12/28/19 12/21/19 12/14/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 222 224 235 -3.9 220 244 262
Continuing Claims -- 1,728 1,719 0.0 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Dec 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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