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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline
by Tom Moeller  February 3, 2022

• Initial claims fall to four-week low.

• Continued claims decline again.

• Insured unemployment rate holds steady.

Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 238,000 in the week ended January 29 (-71.6% y/y) from 261,000 in the prior week, revised from 260,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 245,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of claims rose to 255,000, the highest level since the second week of November.

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 22, seasonally adjusted continued weeks claimed for regular state unemployment insurance fell to 1.628 million (-66.0% y/y) from 1.672 million in the prior week. The latest is the smallest since April 1973.

The insured unemployment rate held steady at 1.2% in the week ended January 22. The record low for the series of 1.1% occurred in April 2019.

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 15, the not seasonally adjusted total number of continuing weeks claimed in all programs declined to 2.068 million from 2.141 million in the previous week.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely. In the week ending January 15, the highest insured unemployment rates were in Alaska (2.96%), New Jersey (2.58%), California (2.54%), Minnesota (2.51%) and Illinois (2.25%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.21%), Alabama (0.29%), North Carolina (0.36%), Arizona (0.47%) and New Hampshire (0.51%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.77%), Ohio (1.19%), Texas (0.94%) and Florida (0.56%). 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) 01/29/22 01/22/22 01/15/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 238.0 261.0 290.0 -71.6 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 257.0 268.7 340.9 -69.8 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,628.0 1,672.0 -66.0 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 2,041.0 2,001.0 -60.7 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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