1st-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Show Largest Jump in Two Months

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 227,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended June 15, AN INCREASE of10,000from the previous week’s upwardly revised 217,000 (from 216,000);
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims ROSE 2,250 to 221,250;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.146 percent of employment, UP from 0.145 percent the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,688,000 for the week ended June 15, UP 22,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,666,000; (from 1,662,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims ROSE 6,500 to 1,686,750.


  • The week-week increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance was the largest since claims jumped 37,000 for the week ended April 20;
  • Four-week moving average of 1st-time claims rose for the third week in a row;
  • The increase in continued claims – a surrogate for hiring – was the 6th in the last nine weeks since continued claims were flat in mid-April.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance

Initial claims for unemployment experienced a slight spike for the last full week of June with no immediate cause for panic. The increase came during an annual retooling at auto plants prepping for a new model year. Under terms of the United Auto Workers (UAW) contract, furloughed production workers can apply for unemployment insurance during their temporary layoff without objection from automakers.

But while the temporary blip up in first time claims can be explained away without cause for alarm, the increase in continued claims – which preceded the upward blip in first-time claims – suggests different issues.

Typically, there are three ways to come off unemployment rolls: getting a job, benefits expiration or if the laid off worker is no longer available for work. The recent history of continued claims – up a net 34,000 or 2 percent, since mid-April –coupled with weak job creation in May and a 2.3 percent drop in job openings since the beginning of the year all suggest a tighter labor market.

The numbers also hint at an increase in the unemployment rate for June when the Bureau of Labor Statistics issues the Employment Situation report next week. Despite a dip in first time claims for unemployment insurance, the preliminary report from the Labor Department hints the 49-year low unemployment rate could be in jeopardy when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its June Employment Situation report on July 5 given an increase in first time claims from mid-May to mid-June and only a slight reduction in the smoothing four-week moving average for initial claims since the middle of May.

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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