1st Time Unemployment Claims Fall; Continued Claims at 44-year Low

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 243,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended October 5 – DOWN 15,000 from the prior week;
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended September 30 was revised DOWN 2,000 to 258,000;
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims DECLINED 9,500 to 257,500;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.168 percent of employment, down from 0.174 percent one week earlier
  • The number of continued claims – reported on a one-week lag – for the week ended September 30 was 1,889,000, DOWN 32,000 from the previous week and the lowest since December 29, 1973 when it was 1,805,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continuing claims DROPPED 11,500 to 1,925,000.

Image result for unemployment insurance

With first time claims for unemployment insurance declining in Florida and Texas, the weekly report on new claims began to stabilize for the week ended October 5, the Department of Labor reported Thursday

At the same time – or at least on a one-week lag – the number of continued claims reflecting those who have been receiving benefits for at least a week, fell to a 44-year low, suggesting increased hiring.

The four-week moving average of first time claims as a percentage of those employed also dropped suggesting layoffs have slowed. Two weeks ago, the percentage reached its highest level since the end of May 2016, reflecting the impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.  Indeed, the number of claims filed in Florida, Texas and even Puerto Rico dropped from the previous week, though the decline in Puerto Rico may have reflected an inability to file rather than an absolute improvement.

The report today suggests the payroll decline of 33,000 in September as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was clearly storm related, though other aspects of the BLS Employment Situation release suggested some weakness in the labor market. Similarly, this week’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the BLS underscored a skills gap as for the 20th consecutive month hires were less than job openings one month prior.

The continued claims data also suggests employers may be hiring from the ranks of the unemployed but combined with the JOLTS numbers, they may be looking elsewhere.

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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