Unemployment insurance Claims Increase; Continued Claims Remain High

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 210,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended February 15, 2020, an INCREASE of4,000from the previous week’s upwardly revised 206,000 (from 205,000);
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims was DOWN 3,250at 209,000;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.136 percent of employment, DOWNfrom 0.137one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,726,000 for the week ended February 8, UP 25,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,701,000 (from 1,698,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 5,250 to 1,722,250

Trends:

  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims for unemployment insurance has fallen for seven straight weeks;
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims for unemployment insurance is at its lowest level since last April.

Data Source: Department of Labor https://oui.doleta.gov/press/2020/0220

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

First-time claims for unemployment insurance ticked up 4,000 during the week ended February 15, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. The weekly report though remained consistent with other indicators of an ongoing strong labor market.

The only blemish on the otherwise strong labor market was the report of an increase of 25,000 continuing claims, tracking individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance and indicating their ability (or inability) to find a job.

The claims data are consistent with the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report which showed job openings falling in December to the lowest level sine April 2018. Indeed, openings fell in just about every industry category (the sole exception was education and health services),

The claims report did offer a positive forecast for the next Employment Situation report due for release March 6.

From mid-January to mid-February, first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell 13,000 and the four-week moving average of initial claims fell 8,250, both suggesting no increase in the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate was 3.58 percent (reported as 3.6 percent) in January, up from 3.5 percent (3.50 percent) in December.

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. 7

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