1st Time Unemployment Claims Show Modest Increase from Storm

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 215,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended October 20 an INCREASE of 5.000 from the prior week’s unrevised report
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS UNCHANGED at 211,750;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.136 percent of employment, UNCHANGED from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,636,000 for the week ended October 13, DOWN 5,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,641,000 (from 1,640,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 6,750 to 1,646,500.


  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for eleven straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 233,894 – 4.9 percent below the level of a year ago, the largest year-year drop of the year.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

1st time claims for unemployment insurance recorded only a modest increase nationally in the wake of the storm which devastated Florida and Georgia last week. While seasonally unadjusted claims in Florida and Georgia soared 65 percent, claims in the rest of the country declined, keeping the unemployment rolls essentially flat.

And, continued claims, which reflect hiring, showed an ongoing decline reflecting a solid labor market.

At the same time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in an in-depth analysis of its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey” underscored the skills mismatch in the labor market.

According to the analysis, the average “hires-per-job-opening” was below 1 for each of the last three years (2015-16-17) suggesting a lot of jobs still go begging.

The BLS analysis showed the situation was particularly dire in health care where the ratio of hires to openings was 0.55 in both 2016 and 2017. In financial activities fell to 0.57 in 2017 from 0.59 in 2016.

For all industries, the ratio was above 1 each year from 2007 through 2014.
The BLS analysis is a virtual roadmap to industry sectors having difficulty finding people to hire.

The weekly report on unemployment insurance claims, a different view of labor market tightness, pointed to a further drop in the unemployment rate in the Labor Situation release for October, due out November 2. To the extent labor market conditions have an impact on the midterm elections, the continuing strong numbers could upset Democratic hopes of wresting control of the House (and Senate) from Republicans.

However, polling suggests the economy writ large is not necessarily the major issue for many voters who, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

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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