Continued Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall to 46-Year Low;

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 213,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 23, 2019, a DECREASE of15,000from the previous week’s upwardly revised 228,000 (from 227,000);
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims FELL 1.500 to 219,750;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.140 percent of employment, UP from 0.138 percent one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,640,000 for the week ended November 16, DOWN 57,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,697,000 (from 1,695,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL to 1,680,500 from 1,693,500.

Trends:

  • The week-week decline in first-time claims for unemployment insurance was the largest since the week ended May 11;
  • The level of continued claims was the lowest since the week ended August 4, 1973, just over 46 years ago;
  • The decline in continued claims for unemployment insurance was the largest since the week ended April 6;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims rose for the first time in eight weeks.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment depression

First-time claims fell sharply in the week ended November 23, but the “headline” shifted to continued claims which dropped to a 46-year low.

Continued claims counts individuals who had previously filed claims and continue to receive them. They are often seen as a surrogate for hiring since getting a job is one of only three ways to stop collecting unemployment benefits – along with benefits expiring or becoming ineligible for payments.

The dramatic drop in continued claims suggests the Employment Situation release December 6 could include a surprise boost in payrolls. From mid-October to mid-November, continued claims for unemployment insurance fell 43,000 but the four-week moving average of continued claims rose 3,000, dampening expectations somewhat.

One of the factors contributing to the prior weeks’ increases in first-time unemployment claims was the wildfires in California but those forced layoffs appear to have abated just as recent rains have slowed the spread of fires.

According to the Labor Department, an industry review of initial claims (on a one-week lag) suggested new concerns in the construction sector with the four states reporting an increase of 1,000 or more first time claims – Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and Minnesota – all citing higher layoffs in the construction sector.

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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