Harvey Sparks 26 Percent Spike in 1st Time Unemployment Insurance Claims

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 298,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended September 2 – highest level since April 18, 2015
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended August 19 was UNCHANGED at 236,000;
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims ROSE 13,500 to 250,250 or 0.162 percent of total employment, up from 0.154 percent of total employment one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – reported on a one-week lag – for the week ended August 19 was 1,940,000, a decline of 5,000 from the previous week’s number, which was revised up by 3,000 to 1,945,000
  • The four-week moving average of continuing claims DROPPED 4,000 to 1,948,250.

Image result for unemployment insurance

The first economic returns from Hurricane Harvey’s devastating tour of Texas are in and they’re not pretty. Initial claim filings for the week ended September 2 spiked to the highest level in 29 months, as the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The first report after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, claim filings rose 8,000 but one week later filings shot up 96,000, an increase of 29.5 percent. Seven years later, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, 1st time claims filings nationwide actually fell 2,000 before jumping 90,000, or 24.9 percent, one week later.

By contrast, the increase just one week after Hurricane Harvey was 26.3 percent (in part because the base number was historically low).

The wee-week increase in first time claims reported Thursday was the largest since the Sandy-related increase.

The history suggests more bad news economically for the weeks to come until businesses begin to staff up for the long rebuilding effort.


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. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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