Continuing Claims Definition

What Are Continuing Claims

Continuing claims track the number of U.S. residents filing for ongoing unemployment benefits in a given week. Continuing claims measure ongoing unemployment benefits, which is in contrast to initial claims, which track new filings for benefits. In order to be counted among continuing claims, a person must be covered by unemployment insurance and must be currently receiving benefits. They must have been unemployed for at least a week after filing the initial claim as per Department of Labor (DOL) specifications.

Key Takeaways

  • Continuing claims are ongoing weekly unemployment benefit claims by workers who previously filed an initial claim.
  • Continuing claim data is released by the U.S Department of Labor.
  • They are not a leading indicator of the economy and offer less new information than first-time claims.
  • In order to be classified as a continuing claim, an unemployed individual must have been unemployed for at least one week after filing an initial claim.
  • Initial claims, which are reported sooner, matter more to financial markets.

Understanding Continuing Claims

The term unemployment refers to the state of being unemployed. This means that an individual cannot work or is unable to find employment. Individuals who are unemployed may or may not try to actively seek employment. When people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, they may file for unemployment benefits. These are claims that are filed with their state governments for payments, which are made for a certain period of time.

Continuing claims are just as their name implies: They are made for ongoing or continuing unemployment claims. As such, continuing claims (which are also called continued claims or insured employment) count or measure workers who receive weekly unemployment benefits. People who receive continued claims have already filed an initial claim. Because everyone counted here previously filed that claim, this data doesn't provide financial market participants with much new information.

Having said that, it's important to note that continuing claims aren't considered to be a leading indicator of the economy. The count of continuing claims doesn't distinguish between someone ending claims because they found a job and someone who has exhausted the benefit. Over the duration of a typical unemployment claim, the DOL releases several monthly employment reports providing much more useful information on labor market conditions.

Like initial claims, continuing claims are released Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. ET in the unemployment insurance weekly claims report. The report aggregates information from state agencies administering the claims. It provides unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data and charts, as well as a breakdown of claims by state.

1.69 million

The number of continuing claims for the week ended Dec. 24, 2022, which is about the same as the four-week moving average.

Special Considerations

Unemployment is a very important measure of a nation's economy. Others include inflation and gross domestic product (GDP). Governments measure unemployment to determine the state of the economy and where it may be headed. Statistics for continuing and initial unemployment claims in the United States are determined based on data collected and reported by the Department of Labor.

Workers are also consumers whose spending provides work for others, so the pace of job gains and losses is crucial to the economy's performance. While the monthly employment report provides a more complete labor market picture, initial unemployment claims offer a more frequent indicator of the pace of layoffs.

When people are unemployed, the country loses productivity. Put simply, there's a drop in the goods and services that are produced.

Continuing Claims vs. Initial Claims

As noted above, initial jobless claims are contrasted with continuing claims. Unlike continuing claims, initial claims measure new rather applications for unemployment benefits than those for ongoing unemployment on a weekly basis.

First-time claims are reported for the week that ends the prior Saturday. Continuing claims in the same report are for the week ended 12 days before the report date.

While continuing claims are considered to be a lagging (or at best, a coincident growth signal), initial claims are considered a leading economic indicator because they are a prompt measure of the weekly layoffs trend nationwide. Initial claims can be particularly telling at economic turning points.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance?"

  2. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Fed, FRED. "Continued Claims (Insured Unemployment)."

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS," Page 1.

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