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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decrease after Previous Week's Advance
by Carol Stone, CBE  January 27, 2022

• Decrease in jobless claims suggests firm labor market conditions.

• Continued claims were up in January 15 week.

• Insured unemployment rate remains in historically low range.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 30,000 in the week ended January 22 to 260,000 (-68.9% y/y) from 290,000 in the prior week, revised from 286,000. That January 15 amount represented a 59,000 weekly increase. Estimates in the Action Economics Forecast Survey averaged 255,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of claims rose to 247,000 from 232,000 in the previous week.

Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expired on September 6, 2020, are no longer included in this report. This program provided benefits to individuals who were not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance benefits, such as the self-employed.

In the week ended January 15, seasonally adjusted continued weeks claimed for regular state unemployment insurance rose 51,000 to 1.675 million (-65.7% y/y) from 1.624 million the week before. The latest is still among the smallest amounts since April 1973.

In the January 15 week, the insured unemployment rate remained at 1.2%, the same as the prior week and compares to the January 1 percentage of 1.1%, which is the record low. This series dates back to 1971.

Continued claims for both the PUA program and for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (a program for those unemployed who had exhausted their state benefits) are no longer included in this report as both programs have expired.

In the week ended January 8, the not seasonally adjusted total number of continuing weeks claimed in all programs rose to 2.141 million from 2.133 million in the previous week.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely. In the week ending January 8, the highest insured unemployment rates were in Alaska (3.11%), New Jersey (2.67%), Minnesota (2.60%), California (2.57%) and Illinois (2.53%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.19%), Alabama (0.31%), North Carolina (0.37%), Arizona (0.47%) and New Hampshire (0.51%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs included Pennsylvania (1.76%), Ohio (1.19%), Texas (0.98%) and Florida (0.548%). These state rates 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 and is in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 01/22/22 01/15/22 01/08/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 260.0 290.0 231.0 -68.9 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 267.6 340.9 421.1 -68.2 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,675.0 1,624.0 -65.7 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 2,005.0 2,065.0 -61.6 3,259.7 10,369.7 1,703.6
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jan 2021)

2.3 7.1 1.2
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