1st Time Unemployment Claims Fall Despite Storms

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 260,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended September 30 – DOWN 12,000 from the prior week;
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended September 16 was UNCHANGED at 272,000;
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims DECLINED 9,500 to 268,250;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.175 percent of employment, down from 0.181 percent one week earlier
  • The number of continued claims – reported on a one-week lag – for the week ended September16 was 1,938,000, UP 2,000 from the previous week’s number;
  • The four-week moving average of continuing claims DROPPED 3,250 to 1,947,000.

Image result for unemployment insurance

Data on first time claims for unemployment somersaulted for the week ended September 30 – with the number of claims falling 12,000, precisely the amount by which they increased one week earlier, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. The 9,500 drop in the four-week moving average of claims offset the 9,000 increase one week earlier.

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.

In all, the claims data – compared with one month ago — suggest an increase in unemployment for September but should have no negative impact on jobs. Part of that is due to the definitions the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses in counting jobs and employment. For the storms to affect jobs – tracked for the “reference” period of the week including the 12th of the month – an individual would have to be off from work without any pay for the entire week.

The employment tally is derived from the household survey with individuals self-reporting their employment status. The household survey collects data on the number of persons who had a job but were not at work due to bad weather.

While the number of claims dropped in areas affected by Harvey, Irma and Maria, they are still above normal weekly levels.

Given the need for rebuilding efforts, we should see jobs increasing in those areas.

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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