1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall to 3 Month Low

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 206,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended July 20, 2013, a DECREASE of 10,000 from the previous week’s unrevised 216,000;
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims DROPPED 5,750 to 213,000;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.136 percent of employment, DOWN from the previous week’s 0.139 percent;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,676,000 for the week ended July 13, DOWN 13,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,689,000; (from 1,686,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 4,500 to 1,677,250.


  • The four-week moving average of initial claims as a percentage of total employment fell for the ninth straight week
  • The number of initial claims was the lowest in 14 weeks (week ended April 13, 193,000)
  • Four-week moving average of continued claims FELL for the first time in five weeks (week ended June 8, down 4,250)

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance claims data

The weekly report on initial and continuing claims for unemployment insurance continued to offer mixed signals about the nation’s labor market.

The report on 1st-time claims strongly suggested another possible decline in the unemployment rate while the data on continued claims offered a hint of a slowdown in hiring when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Employment Situation report for July on August 2.

The suggestion of a slowdown in hiring came from a comparison of the four-week moving average of continued claims from mid-June to mid-July. In that stretch, the average grew by 9,000, suggesting it was a bit more difficult for those already collecting unemployment insurance to get off the rolls by getting a job. And the drop in first-time claims supported that view with employers not resorting to layoffs.

All that said, the weekly unemployment claims data continue to point to a strong labor market, proving a basis for the Federal Open Market Committee to perhaps cut rates when it meets next week. A rate cut by the FOMC next week would the first since December 2008 when the FOMC lowered the fed funds rate to 0.25 percent (from 1.00 percent) and kept it at that level until December 2015 when the Committee raised the rate to 0.50 percent. At its last meeting in June, the FOMC re-affirmed the target fed funds rate at 2.5 percent where it has been since December 2018.

In Thursday’s report, all but four states reported the number of first-time unemployment insurance claims (not seasonally adjusted) fell from the week ended July 13 through the week ended July 20. The only outliers were California, Illinois, Michigan, and Nebraska.

You can hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am (EDT) am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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