Continued Claims for Unemployment Insurance Hit 44-Year Low

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 211,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended April 28 an INCREASE of 2,000 from the prior week;
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended April 21 was UNCHANGED at 211,000;
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims FELL 7,550 to 221,500;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.143 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.148 the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims –individuals who have been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,756,000 for the week ended April 21, DOWN 77,000 from the previous week’s DOWNWARDLY REVISED 1,833,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 15,500 to 1,833,250.


  • The reading of 1.756,000 continued claims for unemployment insurance was the lowest since December 8, 1973 when there were 1,717,000 continued claims;
  • The 77,000 week-week drop in continued claims was the largest decline since November 26. 2016 when continued claims also fell 77,000 week-week;
  • The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance remained below 250,000 for the 16th straight week. [350,000 is considered by labor economists to be the “tipping point” between a robust and weak labor market.]
  • Measured against the total labor force (see Advisor Perspectives graph below), continued claims are at a record low.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Initial Claims

Unemployment insurance claims continue to play a game of limbo with no apparent limit to how low they can go. (of course they could drop to zero but that would cause a different set of problems.) Claims for unemployment insurance have fallen in half of the first 18 weeks this year with a net decline of 50,000 – from 261,000 for the week ended January 6 to this week’s tally of 211,000.

To be sure there have been some weeks in which initial filings increased, but the average wee-week decline has been 12,444 compared with the average increase of 7,000. Ther were two weeks in which claim filings were unchanged from the previous week.

The Federal Open Market Committee is surely taking notice of the tight labor market.

“Job gains,” the FOMC said in the post-meeting statement issued Wednesday, “have been strong, on average [reflected in the declining level of continued claims for unemployment insurance], in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low.”

The unemployment rate is poised to drop still further when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation report for April tomorrow.

The consensus forecast calls for an increase of 193,000 jobs (after an increase of just 103,000 in March and an unemployment rate of 4.0 percent which would be the lowest since December 2000 when it was 3.9 percent.

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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