1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Remain Low

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 211,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended May 18, DOWN 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised 212,000
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims FELL 4,750 to 220,250;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.146 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.149 percent the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,676,000 for the week ended May 11, UP 12,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,664,000; (from 1,660,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims ROSE 5,500 to 1,674,250.


  • The week-week decline in the four-week moving average of 1st time claims for unemployment insurance was the first in five weeks

 Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance

While first-time claims for unemployment insurance remained at low levels for the week ended May 18, trend data in the report suggest the possibility of a negative surprise when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on the Employment Situation for May on June 7.

Comparing mid-April and mid-May data, first-time claims for unemployment rose 18,000 and the four-week moving average of first-time claims grew 18,750. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses employment data collected in the mid-month “reference week” (the week including the 12th calendar day of the month) in computing the monthly unemployment rate. An increase in unemployment claims could mean an increase in the five-decade low 3.6 percent unemployment rate.

Data on continued claims for unemployment roughly translates into hiring, which is the way most people leave the unemployment rolls, is reported on a one-week lag and will be released next week serving as an indicator the jobs count for May.

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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