Economic News

Unemployment claims jumps 20,000 in one week

unemployment office

Unemployment claims jumped a bit recently, but does it mean the trend is negative, or is it to be expected?

unemployment office

Unemployment claims rise by 20,000

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment took a hit in the week ending February 16th, as the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 362,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week’s revised figure. The four week moving average was 360,750, up 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 352,750.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent for the week ending February 9, rising 11,000 from the previous week, hitting 3,148,000 as the four week moving average sat at 3,186,250. States reported 1,849,056 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending February 2.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending February 2 were in Alaska (6.4 percent), Puerto Rico (4.5 percent), Montana (4.4 percent), Pennsylvania (4.3 percent), New Jersey (4.2 percent), Wisconsin (4.1 percent), Idaho (4.0 percent), Connecticut (3.9 percent), Rhode Island (3.9 percent), and Oregon (3.8 percent).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending February 9 were in Kansas (+2,344), Puerto Rico (+492), Virginia (+465), Indiana (+205), and Rhode Island (+176), while the largest decreases were in California (-4,830), New York (-4,401), Oregon (-2,211), Pennsylvania (-2,020), and Wisconsin (-1,670).

Unemployment levels are still bad, but there’s hope

Economists at the National Association of Realtors weighed in, observed that there is “not much to read into the” 20,000 unemployment claims, “since the uptick is within the range of the usual weekly variation of about 18,000 claims. The data is also preliminary and subject to revisions, generally upward, the following week.”

The trade group says despite the uptick, the overall trend is still toward a lower level of claims and the four week moving average, which is a less volatile metric, is improving, albeit modestly.

“So the job market is still improving, although at a slow pace,” the association’s economists opine. “Even with sequestration, NAR projects 1.4 million non-farm net new jobs in 2013.”

unemployment claims

Above: 4-week moving average of weekly claims since January 2000, chart by

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