New applications for U.S. unemployment insurance benefits fell 6,000 for the week ending January 21 to a seasonally adjusted 186,000. The previous week’s figure was revised up from 190,000 to 192,000. The four-week moving average as of January 21 fell to 197,500 from a revised 206,750 as of the week ending January 14.
The number of continuing unemployment insurance claims, which refers to the number of unemployed workers who filed for benefits at least two weeks ago and are actively receiving unemployment benefits, rose 20,000 from the previous week’s revised number to a seasonally adjusted 1.675 million for the week ending January 14. Reporting for continuing claims lags one week.
Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.
The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.