1st Time Unemployment Claims Fall to 49-Year Low, Again

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • The number of continued claims – individuals who have been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,645,000 for the week ended September 7, DOWN 55,000 from the previous week’s DOWNWARDLY REVISED 1,700,000 (revised from 1,711,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 20,750 to 1,691,500.
  • There were 201,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended September 15 a DECLINE of 3.000 from the prior week’s unrevised report;
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims FELL 2,250 to 205,750;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.132 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.134 percent the previous week;


  • The number of first-time claims DROPPED for the sixth time in the last seven weeks, falling to its lowest level since the week ended November 15, 1969 (197,000); It was the seventh time this year the number of first-time claims has fallen to the lowest level since November 1969.
  • Four-week moving average of initial claims HAS FALLEN for the fifth straight week and is at the lowest level since Dece6, 1969 when it was 204,000.
  • The number of continued claims FELL to the lowest level since August 4, 1973 (1,633,000);

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for employment insurance

As the number of initial and continued claims for unemployment insurance continued its limbo dance, data watchers braced for a sharp increase as the Carolinas dry out from Hurricane / Tropical Storm Florence. While the storms will eventually create new jobs as the rebuild gets under way, the immediate impact will be devastating for employment data and of course the disruption of lives.

Claims for unemployment insurance spiked by about 10 percent following storms last year (Harvey, Irene, and Maria). Claims jumped more than 15 percent following Superstorm Sandy and almost 30 percent following Hurricane Katrina.

Hitting as it did in another heavily populated area, Florence will pack an eerily similar statistical punch.

Based on its timing, Florence will also have an impact on the monthly Employment Situation Report for September due to be released October 5. The storm struck during the data collection period for both the household and payroll surveys.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “unusually severe” weather is more likely to have an impact on hours worked than the jobs count which is what the establishment survey develops. In the household survey, which produces the unemployment rate, according to the BLS: Persons who miss the entire week’s work for weather-related events are counted as employed whether they are paid for the time off or not.

The establishment survey could also be affected by the response rate of businesses surveyed. Any delayed surveys though would be included in the two revisions to the jobs numbers.

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.

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