Reclaiming Common Sense

First-time Unemployment Claims Level is Under 200,000 Claims for

the Fourteenth Time This Year


The weekly unemployment claims data includes information on the First-time Unemployment (FTU) claims data, the Continuing Claims (CC) data and the Insured Unemployment Rate.  This week the data surprised with significant drops in all three non-seasonally adjusted values.


Non-seasonally adjusted first-time claims fell to 169,613 claims. The drop in NSA FTU was expected to be between 175,000 and 185,000.  This is the lowest that the NSA FTU claims level has been during the third week of August since August 16, 1969.


The seasonally adjusted first-time claims number was reported at 208,000 claims. This is the lowest SA FTU value for the third week of August since August 16, 1969.


This was the fourteenth week with the Non-Seasonally Adjusted First-time Unemployment Claims number being reported under 200,000 claims this year. We had one week under 200,000 claims during 2015, two weeks under 200,000 during 2016, four weeks during 2017.  There were seven weeks under 200,000 claims during 1972.  There were thirteen (13) weeks during 1973. The next milestones are 19 weeks (1968) and 21 weeks (2018.)


Continuing Claims fell to 1.616 million claims.  This level is 76,000 claims fewer than the same week last year. This is better than the lowest levels of December 1973 through April 28, 2018. Last year's low of 1.350 million is within reach this year/ The 1973 low of 1.252 million claims is within reach this year.  This is not quite as low as the level was during the second week of August 1973. It is lower than it was during the same week of August during 1970, 1971, and 1972.


The seasonally adjusted continuing claims level came in at 1.696 million claims. The seasonally adjusted continuing claims level has been under 2 million since April 1, 2017. The seasonally adjusted continuing claims level was higher during  1973 when it was 1.679 million. The SA CC was also higher during all other years other than 1967, 1968 and 1969.


The insured unemployment rate (IUR) fell to 1.12%. The lowest that this value had been between 1967 and September 30,  of 2017 was 1.13%. The IUR is the portion of "covered insured" who are receiving continuing unemployment claims.


This data is the data collected closest to the same day at the Current Population Survey (CPS) data. The CPS data counts those who say that they are unemployed and looking for work. The weekly claims data measures the number of unemployed workers who were working and are now unemployed. This is a big difference. Both  the SA CC value and SA U-3 unemployment rate should fall through October.


It is dangerous to compare the different data sets. The CPS data is for measuring jobs, full-time and part-time, and unemployed workers. The Current Employment Statistics data measures wages and workers. They have different sample sizes and margins of error. The JOLTS job opening data is comparable to the CES wages and workers data. It is not comparable to the CPS U-3 data. The Continuing claims data is a cousin to the U-3 unemployment data. Related. Not identical.


This writer has had some conversations with others who believe that these low levels of claims are indicative of a major "correction." We could have said the same thing during October of 2015, October of 2016, October of 2017, and October of 2018. This decline in continuing claims will continue until it ends. The same week data is pointing to a strong Fall. We have a record level of workers, a record level of full-time jobs, and a near all-time record high of Multiple Job Workers. A second job is the best form of unemployment insurance.  The elevate level of multiple job holders could push the weekly claims level even lower than it already is being reported.


It's the Economy.