New Unemployment Weekly Claims Increase

Rose by 7.4% in week ending March 26, 2022, but key figures stay at 52-year lows

Initial claims for unemployment insurance across the U.S. were 202,000 for the week ending March 26, 2022, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was up by 14,000 (7.4%) from the revised figure for the prior week. The four-week moving average for initial claims was 208,500, down by 3,500 (1.7%) from the revised figure for the prior week.

The initial claims figure of 202,000 for the week ending March 26 was 3.1% higher than the consensus estimate of 196,000, per economists polled by Bloomberg. However, the continuing claims figure of 1,307,00 for the week ending March 19 was 2.5% below the estimate of 1,340,000. The revised number for the preceding week was 1,342,000.

Key Takeaways

  • Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the week ending March 26, 2022, rose by 7.4% from the prior week.
  • This was 3.1% higher than economists' estimates.
  • Continuing claims were down, and remain at their lowest level since late 1969 to early 1970.
  • Putting the claims figures in context, the U.S. civilian labor force has more than doubled in size since late 1969 and early 1970.

Continuing Claims Decline

Unemployment insurance continuing claims fell, although compilation of this data lags new claims by one week. For the week ending March 19, 2022, the number of continuing claims, also called the number of insured unemployed persons, was 1,307,000, a decrease of 35,000 (2.6%) from the revised number for the prior week, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was the lowest level for insured unemployment since Dec. 27, 1969, when it was 1,304,000.

The four-week moving average for continuing claims fell by 40,500 (2.8%) from the revised figure for the prior week to 1,389,000. This is the lowest level for this average since Feb. 7, 1970, when it was 1,385,250. The previous week's moving average had been revised downward by 2,000 (0.14%), from 1,431,500 to 1,429,500.

Putting this continuing claims figure in historical perspective, the U.S. civilian labor force has grown from 82.5 million in March 1970 to 167.0 million in February 2022, an increase of 102.4%. As a result, continuing claims as a percentage of the civilian labor force have dropped by about half since that time.

Adjusted vs. Unadjusted Data

The seasonally adjusted nationwide initial claims figure of 202,000 cited above for the week ending March 26, 2022, was derived from an unadjusted figure of 195,460. The unadjusted figure rose by 13,121 (7.2%) from 182,339 in the prior week. However, the normal seasonal factors observed at this time of year should have led to a decrease of 777 (0.4%) from the prior week to 181,562 in the week ending March 26, 2022, all else equal. During the comparable week in 2021, there were 723,653 initial claims.

Initial Jobless Claims by State

Note that the statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor also include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, in addition to the 50 states. Of these, 27 reported declines in new claims for the week ending March 26, 2022, while 26 reported increases. As indicated above, total unadjusted claims rose by 13,121 for this week.

The biggest declines in unadjusted new claims were in Kentucky (-2,048) and Pennsylvania (-793). The largest increases were in California (+3,893), Michigan (+3,553), Ohio (+3,518), and Texas (+2,106).

The U.S. Department of Labor cautions that the breakdown by state for the week ending March 26, 2022, contains what are called advance claims. These advance claims are reported by the state liable for paying the unemployment compensation. Data for previous weeks classify claimants by state of residence. Thus, the state-by-state figures for the week ending March 26, 2022, and the prior week are not completely comparable.

For comparable figures, the Department of Labor instead looks at the data for a week earlier, which ended March 19, 2022. The largest increases in initial claims for that week, compared to the week before that, were in Florida (+956), Pennsylvania (+476), Oklahoma (+400), Tennessee (+328), and Connecticut (+161), while the largest decreases were in California (-5,831), Michigan (-4,876), Kentucky (-2,579), Kansas (-2,070), and Illinois (-2,053).

Highest Insured Unemployment Rates

Meanwhile, the highest insured unemployment rates for the week ending March 12, 2022, were in California (2.5%), Alaska (2.3%), New Jersey (2.3%), Rhode Island (2.2%), Massachusetts (2.1%), Minnesota (2.1%), New York (2.0%), Illinois (1.9%), Connecticut (1.7%), Montana (1.7%), and Pennsylvania (1.7%).

The advance seasonally adjusted national figure for the week ending March 12, 2022, was 0.9%, down from 1.0% per the unrevised figure for the prior week. The insured unemployment rate is the ratio of persons receiving unemployment benefits to the total number of persons in the labor force.

During the week ending March 12, 2022, extended unemployment benefits were available in New Jersey.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "News Release: Unemployment Weekly Claims, March 31, 2022," Pages 1-2.

  2. Yahoo Finance. "Jobless claims: Weekly claims rise to 202,000."

  3. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "Civilian Labor Force Level."

  4. U.S. Department of Labor. "News Release: Unemployment Weekly Claims, March 31, 2022," Pages 3-5.

  5. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "Labor Market Slack and the Insured Unemployment Rate."

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