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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Ease
by Tom Moeller  March 30, 2017

Initial jobless insurance applications fell to 258,000 (-3.1% y/y) during the week ended March 25 from 261,000 during the prior week, revised from 258,000. Expectations had been for 247,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Despite the weekly decline, the four-week moving average of 254,000 was the highest in three months. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended March 18 increased to 2.052 million (-5.1% y/y) from 1.987 million. The four-week moving average of claimants eased to 2.031 million, the lowest level since June 2000.

The insured unemployment rate ticked higher to 1.5% from 1.4%, but remained near the record low.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended March 11, the lowest rates were in Florida (0.51%), North Carolina (0.58%), Tennessee (0.70%), Georgia (0.72%), South Carolina (0.73%) and Virginia (0.80%). The highest rates were found in California (2.46%), Rhode Island (2.70%), Montana (2.71%), Connecticut (2.80%), New Jersey (2.93%) and Alaska (3.98s%). The state data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance 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.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 03/25/17 03/18/17 03/11/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 258 261 246 -3.1 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 2,052 1,987 -5.1 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.5 1.4

(Mar. 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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