First-time Unemployment Insurance Claims Drop to near 50-Year Low

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • 196,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended April 6, a DECLINE of 8,000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised 204,000 (originally 202,000);
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims FELL 7,000 to 207,000;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.132 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.137 the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,713,000 for the week ended March 30, DOWN 38,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,726,000 (from 1,717,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims DROPPED 11,000 to 1,734,500.


  • First-time claims fell to the lowest level since last October 1969 when there were also 193,000 claims filed;
  • Initial claims have now fallen for four weeks in a row for the first time since last November 2017
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims fell for the third straight week for the first time since last November.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

Initial claims for unemployment insurance continued their downward march in the same week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the lowest level of job openings in a year.

The seemingly contradictory reports actually reinforce the strong numbers from the monthly Employment Situation release but could mean the end to the strong labor market is in sight.

That, of course, could presage the long-forecast recession or higher earnings.

It would work this way. With fewer people unemployed employers would be competing for scarce talent and have to pay up for it. On the flip side, employers may find themselves compelled to keep workers they might otherwise replace as the talent pool contracts.

Data from last week’s Employment Situation release was though encouraging showing fewer people unemployed because they quit their jobs and an increase in the number of “re-entrants” to the labor force as suggested by the drop in continued claims for unemployment insurance.

The decline in job openings, as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reported this week hints employers may already be feeling the pinch. It was accompanied by a dip in hires in February to the lowest level since last September.

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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