Unemployment Claims Drop in Week Ending April 2, 2022

Down to lowest level since November 1968

Initial claims for unemployment insurance across the U.S. were 166,000 for the week ending April 2, 2022, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was down by 5,000 (2.9%) from the revised figure for the prior week. The number for the previous week was revised downward by 15.3%, from 202,000 to 171,000. The four-week moving average for initial claims was 170,000, down by 8,000 (4.5%) from the revised figure for the prior week.

Starting with this weekly data release, the methodology used to seasonally adjust the national initial claims and continued claims has changed. This also will result in changes to historical data for recent years.

The initial claims figure of 166,000 for the week ending April 2 was 17.0% below the consensus estimate of 200,000, per economists polled by Dow Jones. It also represented the lowest figure since November 1968. There are about 5 million more job openings than available workers, the key factor driving up wages and inflation, as well as contributing to supply chain issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the week ending April 2, 2022, were the lowest since November 1968.
  • They also were 17.% lower than economists' estimates.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. civilian labor force has more than doubled in size since November 1968.
  • New seasonal adjustment factors were implemented in this week, which also create revisions to historical data for recent years.

Continuing Claims Increase Slightly

Unemployment insurance continuing claims rose, although compilation of this data lags new claims by one week. For the week ending March 26, 2022, the number of continuing claims, also called the number of insured unemployed persons, was 1,523,000, an increase of 17,000 (1.1%) from the revised number for the prior week, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The previous week's figure was revised upward by 199,000 (15.2%), from 1,307,000 to 1,506,000.

The four-week moving average for continuing claims fell by 35,250 (2.2%) from the revised figure for the prior week to 1,541,250. The previous week's moving average had been revised upward by 187,500 (13.5%), from 1,389,000 to 1,576,500.

Putting unemployment claims figures in historical perspective, the U.S. civilian labor force has grown from 79.2 million in November 1968 to 164.4 million in March 2022, an increase of 107.6%.

Adjusted vs. Unadjusted Data

The seasonally adjusted nationwide initial claims figure of 166,000 cited above for the week ending April 2, 2022, was derived from an unadjusted figure of 193,137. The unadjusted figure fell by 3,674 (1.9%) from 196,811 in the prior week. However, the normal seasonal factors observed at this time of year should have led to an increase of 2,054 (1.0%) from the prior week to 198,865 in the week ending April 2, 2022, all else equal. During the comparable week in 2021, there were 668,346 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, 31 reported declines in new claims for the week ending April 2, 2022, while 22 reported increases. As indicated above, total unadjusted claims fell by 3,674 for this week.

The biggest declines in unadjusted new claims were in Michigan (-2,599), Texas (-2,569), New Jersey (-1,412), and Kentucky (-1,064). The largest increases were in California (+1,780), Ohio (+1,464), and Pennsylvania (also +1,464).

The U.S. Department of Labor cautions that the breakdown by state for the week ending April 2, 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 April 2, 2022, and for prior weeks, are not completely comparable.

For comparable figures, the Department of Labor instead looks at the data for a week earlier, which ended March 26, 2022. The largest increases in initial claims for that week, compared to the week before that, were in Ohio (+3,580), Michigan (+3,545), California (+3,256), Texas (+2,251), and New York (+761), while the largest decreases were in Kentucky (-2,034), Pennsylvania (-732), Tennessee (-235), Florida (-165), and Connecticut (-138).

Highest Insured Unemployment Rates

Meanwhile, the highest insured unemployment rates for the week ending March 19, 2022, were in California (2.4%), New Jersey (2.4%), Alaska (2.2%), Illinois (2.1%), Rhode Island (2.1%), Massachusetts (2.0)%, Minnesota (2.0%), New York (1.9%), and the Virgin Islands (1.7%).

The advance seasonally adjusted national figure for the week ending March 26, 2022, was 1.1%, unchanged from the revised figure for the prior week, which had been moved upward from 0.9% to 1.1%. 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 19, 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, April 7, 2022," Pages 1-2.

  2. CNBC. "Weekly Jobless Claims Fell to 166,000 Last Week, the Lowest Level Since 1968."

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

  4. U.S. Department of Labor. "News Release: Unemployment Weekly Claims, April 2, 2022," Pages 3-6.

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

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