1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Dip but Moving Averages Remain High

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 216,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended February 16, a DECREASE of 23.000 from the prior week’s unrevised report;
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims ROSE 4,000 to 235,750;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.150 percent of employment, UP from 0.148 the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,725,000 for the week ended February 9, DOWN 55,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,780,000 (from 1,773,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims INCREASED 2,750 to 1,754,750.

Trends:

  • Four-week moving average of initial claims is at highest level in more than a year (Jan 20, 2018: 237,500);
  • 1st time claims as percentage of employment reached the highest level since January 2018;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims has increased for 15 straight weeks.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Keep an eye on the jobs data.

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

Even as the President boasts of a roaring labor market and job creation, unemployment claims are slowly creeping up. They’re not at a panic level and nowhere near the heights of the Great Recession, but the trends are certainly disconcerting.

A breakdown of the new claims suggests no discernible regional or industrial patterns with claims increasing in disparate states such as Washington state and Virginia.

To be sure, initial – and even continued – unemployment insurance claims remain low by historical standards – lower than they were a year ago, for example – but the increase in the averages, combined with other signals of weakness in the economy suggest an end to the current expansion perhaps sooner than later.

A recent report from the Federal Reserve showed a sharp quarter-quarter increase in credit card debt and other consumer loans.

You can hear Mark Lieberman tomorrow and every Friday at 6:20 am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.

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