1st Time Unemployment Insurance Claims Increase; Continued Claims Average Again at 45-year Low

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 227,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended June 23 an INCREASE of 9.000 from the prior week’s report;
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims EDGED UP 1,000 to 222,000;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.143 percent of employment, UP from 0.142 the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims –individuals who have been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,705,000 for the week ended June 16, DOWN 21,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,726,000 (revised from 1,723,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 3,750 to 1,719,500.

Trends:

  • The increase in the number of initial claim filings was the first since May 19 and was also the largest since then
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims dropped for the tenth straight week;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims fell again to its lowest level since December 8, 1973, when it was 1,715,500.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment

The increase in first-time claims for unemployment insurance did little to knock the labor market off course, in part because of the plethora of job openings. Indeed, those job openings contributed to the steady decline in continued claims (as measured by the four-week moving average). The continued claims series loosely reflects the pace of hiring which remains robust.

This report firmed the mid-month comparisons of claims and showed initial claims fell 5,000 from mid -May to mid-June. The four-week moving average of initial claims, however, increase 7,500 or almost 4.0 percent in the last month. The two data points send mixed signals about the trend for employment and the unemployment rate when the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its Employment Situation Report a week from tomorrow.

Continued claims dropped 37,000 from mid-May to mid-June while the four-week moving average is down 32,500 or 7.0 percent. The “streak” of 10 straight weekly declines in the four-week moving average stretches still longer: 18 of the last 20 weeks. The four-week moving average of continued claims declined for 12 consecutive weeks from August 27, 201,6 through November 12, following a similar stretch from February 13 to April 30 that year.

An interesting note is the absence of any real impact on the claims filings of the retooling of auto plants as manufacturers gear up for a new model year. Auto workers furloughed during that period. First time claims in Michigan (not seasonally adjusted) though did increase more than 25 percent to 5,529 for the week ended June 23.

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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