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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline Again
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  February 10, 2022

• Initial claims fall to a four-week low.

• Continued claims were unchanged in the week ending January 29.

• Insured unemployment rate holds steady.

Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 223,00 in the week ended February 5 (-74.2% y/y), from 239,000 in the week ended January 29, revised up 1,000 from 238,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 228,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of claims eased to 253,250 from 255,250 the prior week, revised up from 255,000.

In the week ended January 29, seasonally adjusted continued claims for regular state unemployment insurance were 1.621 million (-65.2% y/y), unchanged from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down from 1.628 million. The latest is the lowest level since 1973.

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.

The insured unemployment rate stood at 1.2% in the week ended January 29, unchanged from the previous week.

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 22, the not seasonally adjusted total number of continuing weeks claimed in all programs rose to 2.100 million from 2.068 million in the previous week.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely. In the week ending January 22, the highest insured unemployment rates were in Alaska (2.9%), California (2.7%), Illinois (2.5%), Minnesota (2.5%), New Jersey (2.5%), Rhode Island (2.5%), Virgin Islands (2.5%), New York (2.4%), Massachusetts (2.3%), and Puerto Rico (2.1%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.2%), Alabama (0.3%), North Carolina (0.4%), Arizona (0.5%) and New Hampshire (0.5%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.9%), Ohio (1.2%), Texas (1.0%) and Florida (0.5%). 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) 02/05/22 01/29/22 01/22/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 223.0 239.0 261.0 -74.2 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 228.9 257.6 268.7 -73.6 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,621.0 1,621.0 -65.2 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 2,001.0 2,035.0 -60.3 3,259.7 10,369.7 1,703.6
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Feb 2021)

2.3 7.1 1.2
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