Initial claims for unemployment insurance filed in the week ended October 11 dropped to 287,000, the lowest since April 2000. This puts the 4-week moving average to 283,500, also the lowest since June 2000. A number that is below 300,000 has been the rule of thumb for a level indicating normal economic activity. Fewer claims for unemployment insurance means greater job stability for workers. A solid job history is an important criteria lenders look at when evaluating a loan application.
With generally fewer claims filed every week, the number of insured unemployed has also been on the decline. As of the week of October 4, there were 2.4 million claiming unemployment insurance, down from about 6.6 million at the height of the housing crisis in 2009.
For the week of October 4, the states with the largest decreases in claims filed were Oklahoma (-191), Idaho (-123), Nevada (-82), and the Virgin Islands (-11). The largest increases in initial claims were in New York (+4,753), Texas (+1,976), California (+1,825), Florida (+1,743), and Ohio (+1,734).
Overall, the insurance claims data indicates an improving job market in October and is an indicator that the unemployment rate will continue to hover at 6 percent. About 2 to 2.5 million net new jobs are likely to be added over the next 12 months. NAR expects that the sustained improvement in the job market can support 5 million of existing home sales in 2014.