Unemployment Insurance Claims Slide but Remain High

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 234,000 1st-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended December 14, 2019, a DECREASE of18,000from the previous week’s unrevised 252,000;
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims ROSE 1,500 to 225,500;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.142 percent of employment, UP from 0.141 percent one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,722,000 for the week ended December 7, UP 51,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,671,000 (from 1,667,000)
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims ROSE 6,250 to 1,683,500.

Trends:

  • The surge in the number of continued claims was the largest the week ended February 16 when continued claims rose 54,000;
  • According to the Labor Department, four states saw an increase of first-time of more than 8,000 for the week ended December 7
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to its highest level since February.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment great depression

First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell back 18,000 for the week ended December 14, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

And using state reports received on a one-week lag, the Labor Department attributed the 51,000 increase in first time claims for the week ended December 7 to California wildfires and layoffs in the transportation and warehousing sector, a product of higher tariffs which tamped down imports.

The higher number of initial claims hints at a possible increase in the nation’s unemployment rate when the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation Report for December is released January 10. From mid-November to mid-December, the number of first-time claims rose 6,000 and the four-week moving average of initial claims increased 4,250. Both measures also increased from mid-November to mid-December.

The relatively high level of first-time claims for the week ended December 14 is particularly worrisome. While the data for the previous week was likely impacted by the often-extended Thanksgiving Day holiday, there was no calendar interference in the subsequent week.

Weekly claims data are highly volatile in the best of times, even more so in a 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.

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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