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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Claims Rose in Latest Week
by Sandy Batten  March 10, 2022

• Increase a little larger than expected.

• But claims continue to fluctuate around pre-pandemic levels.

• Continued claims rose slightly but remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose a more-than-expected 227,000 (-69.1% y/y) in the week ended March 5 following an upwardly revised 216,000 in the previous week (previously 215,000). Notwithstanding this increase, weekly unemployment claims figures continue to fluctuate around levels that existed prior to the pandemic and thus continue to depict relative tight labor market conditions. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 216,000 claims for the latest week. The 4-week moving average of claims edged up to 231,250 from 230,250 in the prior week.

In the week ended February 26, continuing unemployment insurance claims were 1.494 million, up from 1.469 million in the previous week. These figures are well below those immediately before the pandemic and are the lowest since the early 1970s. The insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 1.1% in the week ended February 26. This reading ties a record low first reached in the week ended January 1.

In the week ended February 19, the number of continued weeks claimed in all programs fell 62,259 to 1.909 million. Initial claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program are no longer included in this report. Also, continued claims for both the PUA program and for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation are no longer reported as both programs have expired.

The state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs continued to vary. In the week ending February 19, the highest insured unemployment rates were in Illinois (2.45%), California (2.44%), Alaska (2.40%), Rhode Island (2.39%) and New Jersey (2.38%). The lowest rates were in Virginia (0.19%), Alabama (0.24%), North Carolina (0.35%), Florida (0.43%) and Mississippi (0.44%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include New York (2.17%), Pennsylvania (1.80%), Ohio (1.19%) and Texas (0.85%). 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) 03/05/22 02/26/22 02/19/22 Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Initial Claims 227.0 216.0 233.0 -69.1 473.3 1,352.1 218.0
Initial Claims (NSA) 218.1 196.0 216.0 -69.8 473.0 1,352.7 217.6
Continuing Claims -- 1,494.0 1,469.0 -64.1 3,260.9 10,379.7 1,699.0
Continuing Claims (NSA) -- 1,916.0 1,852.0 -58.2 3,259.7 10,369.7 1,703.6
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.1 1.1

(Mar 2021)

2.3 7.1 1.2
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