but Continuing Claims are the Lowest Since Early 1970
- Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 200,000 in the week ending April 30.
- Continuing claims fell to 1.384 million in the week ending April 23, the lowest since mid-January 1970.
- The insured unemployment rate held steady at a very low 1.0 percent in the week ending April 23.
- The labor market remains strong as the spring quarter begins.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose by 19K to 200,00 in the week ending April 30. The four-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out some of the volatility, edged up by 8K to 188,000 in the week ending April 23. Initial claims for unemployment rose in early 2022 to close to 300,000 as the omicron variant hit the labor market, but more recently have fallen below the 200,000 per week where initial claims stood before the pandemic. The insured unemployment rate held steady at a very low 1.0 percent in the week ending April 23, down from 2.5 percent in the same week a year ago.
The total number of people receiving benefits under regular state unemployment insurance programs (continuing claims) fell by 19,000 in the week ending April 23 to 1.384 million. This was the lowest level since mid-January 1970! The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 1.417 million from 1.453 million the previous week. Continuing claims are at decades-long lows as unemployed workers leave the program’s rolls, either because their benefits have expired or because they have quickly found a new job. After peaking at more than 23 million in May 2020, state continuing claims have now moved to their lowest levels since the beginning of 1970.
The labor market remains in solid shape as the spring quarter begins. Demand for labor is very strong, and with the labor force smaller than it was before the pandemic, firms are competing for workers and bidding up wages. We expect a rise in payroll jobs of 465,000 in the April employment report released tomorrow. There is a downside risk to our forecasts from a lack of available workers in many industries. The U.S. should return to its pre-pandemic level of employment over the summer. The unemployment rate, which peaked at almost 15% in April 2020, was 3.6% in March 2022. It is expected to return to its pre-pandemic level of 3.5% in April.
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