1st Time Unemployment Claims Fall Again While Continued Claims Rise Again

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 240,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 25, DOWN 2,000 from the prior week;
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended November 18was REVISED UP to 239,000 from the initially reported 238,000;
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims ROSE 2,250 to 241,500, the third straight weekly increase;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.157 percent of employment, UP from 0.155 percent one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – reported on a one-week lag – was UP 42,000 for the week ended November 18 to 1,957,000, the highest level since mid-July;
  • The four-week moving average of continuing claims ROSE 18,250 to 1,911,000 – the highest since the end of September

Image result for unemployment insurance

Continued claims for unemployment insurance took a sharp upward turn in the last full weeks of November surging to a four-month high, the Department of Labor  reported Thursday, puncturing the balloon about strong improvement in the labor market.

Continued claims reflect the ability of those collecting unemployment insurance benefits to get off the rolls, usually by finding a new job. An increase in continued claims suggest finding those jobs has become more difficult.  The four-week moving average of continued claims had fallen in twelve of the 14 weeks ending November 4 but in the next two weeks increased 22,000, just over 1 percent. The actual number of continued claims rose 4.8 percent in that period.

Unemployment claims are historically difficult to track during holiday periods. Last week’s Thanksgiving holiday followed by two weeks the observance of Veterans’ Day. A year ago, in the same two-week period, continued claims rose 100,000. Just over 5 percent.

The uptick in Black Friday sales – which caused retail stock prices to increase – may have those retailers rethinking their decisions to cut back on hiring for the holiday sales season.

Thursday’s claims reports offer further insight into the Employment Situation report for November to be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics next week. The four-week moving average of initial claims dropped 9,000 from mid-October to mid-November pointing suggesting the unemployment rate may have dropped further in November. The four-week moving average of continued claims though rose 5,750 underscoring payroll job challenges.

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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