1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Jump to Five-month High;

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 225,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 9, 2019, an INCREASE of14,000from the previous week’s unrevised 211,000;
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims ROSE 1.750 to 215,250;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.138 percent of employment, UP from 0.137 percent one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,683,000 for the week ended November 2, DOWN 10,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,693,000 (from 1,689,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims REMAINED at 1,687,750.

Trends:

  • The increase in first-time claims for unemployment insurance was the largest one-week jump since the week ended April 20;
  • The level of initial claims filings was the highest in five months;
  • The decline in continued claims for unemployment insurance was the largest since the week ended August 27;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims, which was unchanged, has not dropped for six straight weeks.

Data Source: Department of Labor

First-time claims for unemployment insurance rose to the highest level since June as recession tremors continue to roil the economy.

Despite the increase, the long-time caveat remains that despite recent volatility in claims, the overall numbers remain near historic lows and remain vulnerable to extraneous factors which, because the overall numbers are low, exaggerate any movement.

The 225,000 filings for the week ended November 9 represented a 6.6 percent week-week increase, the largest since a 19.2 percent surge for the week ended April 20 – to 230,000.

Claims could likely climb again next week with normal flows interrupted by the Veterans Day holiday for workers who process claims filed electronically.

One factor which may have affected unemployment claims last week was the California wildfires. The increase in claims filed in California represented about one-sixth of the increase nationwide according to data reported by the Department of Labor which is not adjusted for seasonal factors. A couple of states, notably Illinois and Pennsylvania, attribute the recent increase in claims in those states to layoffs in  the construction sector as housing continues to struggle.

You can hear Mark Lieberman Friday mornings at 6:20 am on POTUS’ Morning Briefing, Sirius-XM 124. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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