Unemployment Claims Continue to Show Labor Strength

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 214,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended October 20 a DECREASE of 2.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report.
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS UP 1,750 to 213,750.
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.137 percent of employment, UP from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,631,000 for the week ended October 20, DOWN 7,000 from the previous week’s downwardly REVISED 1,638,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 6,250 to 1,640,750.


  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for eleven straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance is 5.1 percent below the level of a year ago, the largest year-year drop of the year.
  • The 1,640,000 continued claims is the lowest level since July 28, 1973, when it was 1,603,000.
  • The 4-week moving average of 1,653,000 continued claims is the lowest level for this average since August 11, 1973, when it was 1,627,750.

Data Source: Department of Labor 

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

This is just the kind of report Republicans can gloat about as they head into election day: further evidence that the country’s job engine is doing just fine, thank you very much!

That conclusion can be drawn from the data on continued claims for unemployment insurance which continues its decline suggesting jobs are available for those who on the unemployment insurance rolls. It fits perfectly with forecasts that the Employment Situation Report to be released Friday will show an uptick in job creation in October after a disappointing report for September.

BLS reported 190,000 new jobs for September; the consensus is October will show 225,000. The September numbers were, of course, heavily impacted by storms.

Indeed, from mid-September to mid-October, the number of the volatile first-time claims was essentially flat while the more stable four-week moving average rose only slightly, suggesting no change in the 3.7 percent unemployment rate.

Continued claims, which more closely track jobs (as opposed to unemployment) fell sharply from mid-September to mid-October and the four-week moving also dropped.

However, polling suggests the economy writ large is not necessarily the major issue for many voters who, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

You can hear Mark Lieberman tomorrow at 8:45  am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.

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