Jobless Claims Drop After Last Week’s High

Initial jobless claims are the number of unemployment insurance claims filed in the past week.
Anna Helhoski
By Anna Helhoski 
Updated
Edited by Laura McMullen

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Initial jobless claims dropped by 10,000 in the week ending May 11, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

In the prior week, the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims had jumped to an eight-month high — reportedly due to a spike in claims in New York during that week stemming from spring breaks across schools. During public school breaks some workers, like bus drivers and cafeteria workers, can apply for unemployment benefits.

The weekly jobless claims, or initial claims, are the number of unemployment insurance claims filed in the past week. They provide an indicator of the strength — or weakness — of the labor market. Claims remained steady throughout 2023, but recent data shows some of the lowest levels of initial claims since September 2022.

Jobless claims declined to 222,000 for the week ending May 11, according to the report released on May 16. Last week’s level was revised up to 232,000. The claims came in above what economists had estimated (220,000).

The new four-week moving average — a measurement of the number of people who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time over the last four weeks — was 217,750, which is 2,500 higher than the previous week’s average of 215,250.

What's the insured unemployment rate?

Not all types of unemployment are included as part of the insured unemployment rate. It only includes "covered unemployment," as in people who receive unemployment benefits. Those who quit their jobs, for example, aren't included in the insured unemployment rate because they aren't eligible for unemployment benefits.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate — the rate of continuous covered unemployment claims divided by covered employment — was 1.2% for the week ending May 4. The rate is unchanged from the unrevised rate for the previous week.

How are state labor markets doing?

States with the highest insured unemployment rates, week ending April 27:

  • New Jersey: 2.4%

  • California: 2.3%

  • Massachusetts: 1.8%

  • Rhode Island: 1.8%

  • Illinois: 1.7%

  • New York: 1.7%

  • Alaska: 1.6%

  • Nevada: 1.6%

  • Washington: 1.6%

  • Connecticut: 1.5%

  • Minnesota: 1.5%

States with the largest increases in initial jobless claims, week ending May 4:

  • New York: +10,171

  • California: +3,595

  • Indiana: +2,367

  • Illinois: +1,836

  • Texas: +1,253

States with the largest decreases in initial jobless claims, week ending May 4:

  • Iowa: -1,177

  • New Hampshire: -435

  • Connecticut: -334

  • Louisiana: -213

  • Kentucky: -208

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images News via Getty Images)

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