1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Increase

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 225,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended February 23, an INCREASE of 8.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report (216,000 to 217,000);
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims FELL 7,000 to 229,000;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.146 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.151 the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,805,000 for the week ended February 16, UP 79,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,726,000 (from 1,725,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims INCREASED 6,750 to 1,761,750.


  • Four-week moving average of continued claims is at highest level since last May 18 1,775,000);
  • The week-week increase in continued claims was the largest since the week ended November 28, 2015 (85,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims has increased for 16 straight weeks.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

First-time claims for unemployment insurance crept back up last week, adding to signals the long economic recovery may be slowing.

While the increase in filings was slight, it also suggests more right-sizing among businesses which could ease pressures on employers to increase wages. Any such slowdown would have a quick ripple effect through the economy, endangering already shaky retail sales and the in-the-doldrums housing market.

The Labor Department report also offered some hints to next week’s Employment Situation report for from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From mid-January to mid-February, the measurement points for the BLS’ monthly report, both initial claims and the four-week moving average of initial claims increased suggesting an increase in unemployment in the household survey.

The number and moving average of continued claims, a surrogate for hiring, also both rose suggesting a slowdown in job creation which has averaged about 203,000 per month for each month of the Trump Administration, about 10,000 per month under the average for the last 24 months of the Obama Administration.

You can hear Mark Lieberman tomorrow and 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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