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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall Unexpectedly
by Carol Stone, CBE  September 29, 2022

• Smallest number of initial claims since mid-April.

• Continued weeks claimed fall again.

• Insured unemployment rate holds at 1%.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to 193,000 (-48.7% y/y) during the week ended September 24 from 209,000 during the prior week; that earlier count was revised from 213,000. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 215,000 initial claims for last week. The 4-week moving average of initial claims fell to 207,000 last week from 215,750 in the prior week. The latest week was the smallest amount since the week of April 23 and compares to a recent high of 252,000 in the first week of August.

In the week ended September 17, continued weeks claimed for unemployment insurance fell to 1.347 million (-50.5% y/y) from 1.376 million in the prior week, revised from 1.379 million. The latest week is again the smallest number of continuing claims since the first week of July.

The insured unemployment rate remained at 1.0% for an eleventh consecutive week. The insured unemployment rate has been fluctuating between 0.9% and 1.0% since April, a record-low range for the series, which dates back to 1971.

In the week ended September 17, the total number of continued weeks claimed in all unemployment insurance programs was 1.302 million (-74.1% y/y), up a marginal 6,855 from the prior week. This total includes federal employees, newly discharged veterans, extended benefits and other specialized programs and is not seasonally adjusted. Claims in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation are no longer included in the main Labor Department press release, as both programs have expired.

The insured rates of unemployment in regular programs vary widely across states. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending September 10 were in New Jersey (1.86%), California (1.83%), Puerto Rico (1.59%), New York (1.48%), Rhode Island (1.24%) and Massachusetts (1.23%). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.12%), North Dakota (0.22%), Virginia (0.26%), Alabama (0.27%), and Kansas and Nebraska (both 0.28%). Other state insured rates of unemployment in regular programs include Pennsylvania (1.19%), Illinois (1.00%), Texas (0.82%) and Florida (0.45%). 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, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

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