1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Return to “Normal”

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 212,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended May 11, DOWN 16,000 from the previous week’s unrevised 228,000
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims ROSE 4,750 to 225,000;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.149 percent of employment, UP from 0.146 percent the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,660,000 for the week ended May 4, DOWN 28,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,688,000; (from 1,684,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims ROSE 1,200 to 1,668,250.


  • The week-week decline in 1st time claims for unemployment insurance was the largest in 11 weeks. The number of initial claims fell 18,000 in the week ended February 16
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims rose for the fourth week in a row for the first time since January;
  • The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose for the first time in eight weeks.

 Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance


After a couple of weeks of relatively high initial unemployment insurance claims, first-time claims fell back to their new normal for the week ended May 11. The “culprit” appears to have been in New York State which showed sharp increases in claims during the two weeks ended May 4 and then an equally sharp decline one week later. The uptick was due to one-time layoffs in the transportation and warehousing, education service, and public administration industries, according to the (federal) Labor Department.

The claims increase in New York accounted for more than 4 percent of the increase in claims nationwide, a function not of any specific issues in the Empire State but of arithmetic as the low level of claims overall magnifies movement in any one industry or state.

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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