The number of people claiming unemployment insurance has fallen to its lowest level since 2000. Over the past 4 weeks that ended May 23, 2015, the average number of unemployment claims totaled 271,500, the lowest level since April 2000 (Chart 1). The number of claims filed has trended below 300,000 for the past 12 weeks, a level that analysts consider as part of normal job transition. A decline in the number of unemployment claims indicates fewer layoffs and greater job stability which paves the way for future job hires.
Based on May 2-16 data, claims have dropped across most states compared to their year-ago levels except for the states with greater reliance on the oil-gas industry wherein the number of claims increased (Chart 2): Texas (2,005), Oklahoma (1,325), Louisiana (1,273), North Dakota (595), West Virginia (414), and Wyoming (213). Other states that had an increase in the number of unemployment insurance claims were: Nevada (129), Colorado (98), and Vermont (26).
The decline in the number of claims filed is another indicator that the job market continues to strengthen, a plus factor for the housing market in 2015. NAR expects over 2 million net new jobs in 2015, and, as a result, 5.3 million in existing home sales, given the continuing improvement in jobs and the economy.