Reclaiming Common Sense

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

the Sixteenth 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.  Last week the non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment (FTU) claims was recorded at 176,865 while the seasonally adjusted (SA) FTU was reported at just 216,000 claims. NSA Continuing Claims (CC) were recorded at 1.616 million while the SA CC was reported at 1.698 million. Both the NSA FTU and NSA CC were expected to drop this week. What was recorded and what was reported this week?


Non-seasonally adjusted first-time claims lowest for the final of August was 178,362. Some will say that this is slightly higher than last year. Last year we had 176,000 claims. We have 144 million covered insured this year compared to 142 million covered insured last year. A 2,000 claim difference for 2 ,000,000 is a negligible difference.


The seasonally adjusted first-time claims number was reported at 217,000 claims.  Last year we were at 215,000 claims. This week's level  is lower than any other final week of August data from 1970 through 2017.


This was the sixteenth 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.) Last year we had 12 weeks under 200,000 by the final week of August.


Continuing Claims fell to 1.555 million claims. This is 45,000 claims lower than the same week last year. We have over 2 million more covered insured this year than we had last year.


The seasonally adjusted continuing claims level came in at 1.662 million. This is the lowest that the NSA CC value has been since August 26th of 1972. Ironically, this value is the lowest that it "could" have been reported, using prior seasonal factors.


The insured unemployment rate (IUR) remained steady at 1.08%. The lowest that this value had been between 1967 and August 25, 2018 was 1.13%. The IUR is the portion of "covered insured" who are receiving continuing unemployment claims.


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. Also, we could have more continuing unemployment claims, or more first-time claims, and a lower IUR based on having more covered insured.


It's the Economy.