Unemployment Insurance Claims Remain Low; Data Suggest Labor Woes

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • There were 214,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 3 a DECREASE of 1.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report.
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS DOWN 750 to 213,750.
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.137 percent of employment, UNCHANGED from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,623,000 for the week ended October 27, DOWN 8,000 from the previous week’s UNREVISED 1,631,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 7,500 to 1,633,250.


  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for 13 straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance is 4.9 percent below the level of a year ago.
  • The 1,623,000 continued claims are the lowest level for continued claims since July 28, 1973, when it was 1,603,000.
  • The 4-week moving average of 1,633,250 continued claims is at the lowest level since August 11, 1973, when it was 1,627,250.

Data Source: Department of Labor 

Image result for unemployment claims

The strong labor picture didn’t help Republicans in the House, but it may have been a factor from the GOP in extending its control of the Senate, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 3 continued to hover in a narrow range but permits more significantly continued claims fell again suggesting those on the unemployment rolls are finding jobs.

That said, job openings, according to Tuesday’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dipped slightly at the end of September to just over 7 million, from just under 7.3 million at the end of August. Hires in September dropped as well, 5.7 million in September from 5.9 million in August. The decline in job openings could suggest employment may have peaked as the unemployment rate in October remained at 3.7 percent.

The JOLTS report, taken together with eh claims data, suggests a widening of the skills gap between those available and looking for work and the types of jobs.

In fact, the number of unemployed per job opening rose again in September, up to 11.8 from 1.17 – the third straight monthly increase.

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.

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