What Are Continuing Claims
Continuing claims track the number of U.S. residents filing for ongoing unemployment benefits in a given week. While initial claims track new filings for benefits, continuing claims are a measure of ongoing unemployment benefit claims.
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, per Department of Labor (DoL) specifications.
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.
- Continuing claims are ongoing weekly unemployment benefit claims by workers who previously filed an initial claim.
- They are not a leading indicator of the economy and offer less new information than first-time claims.
- Initial claims, which are reported sooner, matter more to financial markets.
Understanding Continuing Claims
Continuing claims count workers receiving weekly unemployment benefits. Because everyone counted here previously filed an initial claim, this data doesn't provide financial market participants with much new information.
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.
The number of continuing claims for the week ended April 28, 2022. Continuing claims are at their lowest levels in 50 years.
Continuing Claims vs. Initial Claims
In contrast with continuing claims, initial jobless claims measure new rather than ongoing unemployment on a weekly basis.
First-time claims are reported for the week ended the prior Saturday. Continuing claims in the same report are for the week ended 12 days before the report date.
While continuing claims are 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.
Why Jobless Claims Matter to Investors
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.