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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Inch Higher
by Tom Moeller  May 25, 2017

Initial claims for unemployment insurance nudged up to 234,000 (-12.7% y/y) during the week ended May 20 from 233,000 during the prior week, revised from 232,000. It remained near the lowest level of initial claims since July 1973. Expectations called for 238,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average declined to 235,250. During the last ten years, there has been a 72% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 1.923 million (-10.9% y/y) in the week ended May 13 from 1.899 million in the prior week. The four-week moving average of claimants fell to 1.946 million, the lowest level since November 1988.

The insured unemployment rate held at the record low of 1.4%.

The unemployment insurance claims data begin January 2, 1971.

Insured rates of unemployment across states continue to vary widely. For the week ended May 6, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.31%), Nebraska (0.43%), Florida (0.50%), North Carolina (0.52%), Tennessee (0.64%) and Georgia (0.66%). The highest rates were found in Alaska (3.09%), New Jersey (2.22%), Connecticut (2.12%), California (2.09%), Illinois (1.78%) and Massachusetts (1.76%). These 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) 05/20/17 05/13/17 05/06/17 Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Initial Claims 234 233 236 -12.7 263 278 308
Continuing Claims -- 1,923 1,899 -10.9 2,136 2,267 2,599
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.4 1.4

1.6
(May 2016)

1.6 1.7 2.0
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