1st Time Unemployment Claims, Continued Claims Remain Low

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 226,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended March 10 a DECREASE of 4,000 from the prior week;
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended March 3 was REVISED DOWN 1,000 to 230,000
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims FELL 750 to 221,500;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.143 percent of employment, UNCHANGED from the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims –individuals who have been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, for the week ended March 3 was 1,879,000, UP 4,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,875,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims DECLINED 17,250 to 1,890,750;

Data Source: Department of Labor 


  • The number of continued claims for unemployment insurance has been below 2,000,000 for almost a year (48 weeks since last April 1) underscoring the tightening labor picture by shrinking unemployment rolls;
  • The moving four-week moving average of initial claims has been below 300,000 for even longer: since March 2015.


Image result for unemployment insurance claims

Even with occasional blips up, the weekly report on unemployment insurance claims – both first-time and continued – reflects the labor market with fewer and fewer employers laying off workers and more and more dipping into the ranks of the unemployed to add to (or restore) staff.

All of this makes for a head scratcher for the Federal Open Market Committee which meets next Tuesday and Wednesday to consider interest rates. Only one outcome is certain: the FOMC is not going to lower rates but is poised for yet another increase in the benchmark Federal Funds rate in an effort to slow what may be an overheating economy.

The Fed’s own industrial production and capacity indices are at or near record high levels while the capacity utilization rate – not at record levels – is at the highest levels since the end of the Recession. ‘

Both suggest an economic conundrum which could be solved with market expansion which Congress tried to do with its tax cut. The expansion of overseas demand though may be choked off by responses to the imposition of higher tariffs on imported goods. Retaliation by trading partners would choke off increased demand overseas.

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

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