1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Up Again

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 214,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended October 12, 2019, an INCREASE of 4,000from the previous week’s unrevised 210,000;
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims ROSE 1,000 to 214,750;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.137 percent of employment, UP from 0.136 percent one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,679,000 for the week ended October 5, DOWN 10,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,689,000 (from 1,684,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims ROSE 3,500 to 1,669,750;


  • The week-week increase in initial claims was the fourth in the last five weeks;
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims has risen for three straight weeks;
  • On a year-year basis, the four-week moving average of initial claims has increased for seven straight weeks;

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment great depression

Making sense of the weekly report on unemployment insurance claims is always a challenge. The frequency of data release and the volatility contribute as do unexpected (usually disasters) events, so when clear patterns start to emerge – even though the numbers are relatively small – we tend to pounce on them.

Such is the case with this week’s report on unemployment insurance claims.

Even though numbers are small by recent historical standards (they were even smaller 50 years ago when the series began, but then too so was the population), they can be revealing. And what they are revealing now is some trouble brewing in the labor market.

The increases we’re seeing in the weekly data are consistent with the data in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report showing increases in the number of layoffs and discharges, qualifying factors for unemployment insurance

At the same time, the monthly release of the Employment Situation report has been showing a declining number of new jobs, another troubling sign.

That’s not to say a recession is around the corner, but the evidence pointing to a slowdown is mounting .

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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