1st-time Unemployment Insurance Drop Sharply; Little Impact from Dorian

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 204,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended September 7, 2019, a DECREASE of15,000from the previous week’s upwardly revised 219,000 (from 217,000);
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims FELL 4,250 to 212,500;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.135 percent of employment, DOWN from the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,670,000 for the week ended August 31, DOWN 4,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,674,000 (from 1,662,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 14,500 to 1,680,250;

Trends:

  • The week-week decline in initial claims, 15,000, was the largest drop number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance since the week-ended May 11, 2019, when the week-week decline was 16,000;
  • The drop in the four-week moving average of continued claims was the steepest since the week ended April 13 when the four-week moving average of continued claims fell 22,250 to 1,687,500;
  • The number of continued claims was 5,000 higher than a year ago, on the second time since January 2010 continued claims were higher than they had been a year earlier. (The first time was four weeks ago.)

Data Source: Department of Labor   

Image result for unemployment

Separate from its devastating impact in the Bahamas and despite dire forecast and warnings, Hurricane Dorian appears to have little impact on labor markets in the two weeks since it threatened Florida and other coastal states.

Indeed, the number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell in the week after the storm and in the week immediately following the hurricane, Florida was one of the states with largest declines in initial claims. Georgia and both North and South Carolina also registered declines.

That doesn’t mean the situation won’t be reversed as the impact of the storm begins to settle in. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey which made landfall in Texas on Friday, August 25 two years ago, initial unemployment insurance claims jumped 61,000, in the Labor Department report for the week ended September 2. In the interim, Hurricane Irma struck Florida on August 30.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy battered the Northeast on Monday, October 29. The claims report for the week ended November 3, 2012, showed a slight increase of 1,000 in initial unemployment insurance claims, but for the week ended November 10 that year claims skyrocketed by 81,000

Within just a few weeks, claims filings returned to pre-storm ranges and the number of continued claims dropped as well suggested individuals laid off by the storms were rehired.

You can hear Mark Lieberman Friday mornings at 6:20 am on POTUS’ Morning Briefing, Sirius-XM 124. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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