Unemployment insurance Claims Jump to 2-plus Year High

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 252,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended December 7, 2019, an INCREASE of49,000from the previous week’s unrevised 203,000;
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims ROSE 6,250 to 224,000;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.141 percent of employment, UP from 0.139 percent one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,667,000 for the week ended November 30, DOWN 31,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,698,000 (from 1,693,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 6,250 to 1,676,000.


  • The surge in the number of first-time claims was the largest since the number of first-time claims soared 61,000 for the week ended August 28, 2017
  • The number of first-time claims rose to the highest level since the week ended September 25, 2017;
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to its highest since May;

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment great depression

Just one week after initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to the lowest level since April, first-time claims soared to the highest reading in more than two years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

There were no external factors such as storms or labor unrest which might have led to the surge which was likely more related to the calendar. Weekly claims data are highly volatile in the best of times, even more so this week which reflected a later-than-usual Thanksgiving holiday. During holiday periods displaced workers can file claims electronically even as government workers who process them may take vacation.

Claim filings this year have been rocked by weather and the California wildfires which led to temporary jumps in the readings followed closely by a sizable decline suggesting no long-term negative labor trend. Even continued claims – which reflect previous claimants who remain on unemployment rolls—have not shown any sustained increase which would suggest difficulty in securing new employment.

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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