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Unemployment insurance claims and economic activity

  • William T. Gavin
  • Kevin L. Kliesen

Economic forecasters pay especially close attention to labor market indicators during periods of economic uncertainty. Labor market data are thought to provide early evidence about changes in the course of the economy. This article examines whether monthly changes in labor market indicators are useful for predicting real GDP. It then examines whether weekly changes in initial and continuing unemployment insurance claims are useful for helping to predict changes in important labor market indicators. Incoming monthly data on nonfarm payroll jobs and the index of aggregate weekly hours help predict changes in real GDP growth, but data on the civilian unemployment rate do not. The authors also find that unemployment insurance claims help to predict changes in monthly labor variables. As others have found, these predictions work best in periods of recession. However, this article shows that there was also some predictive ability during the 1990s expansion.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2002)
Issue (Month): May ()
Pages: 15-28

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2002:i:may:p:15-28:n:v.84no.3
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  1. McCracken, Michael W., 2007. "Asymptotics for out of sample tests of Granger causality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 719-752, October.
  2. Evan F. Koenig & Sheila Dolmas & Jeremy Piger, 2003. "The Use and Abuse of Real-Time Data in Economic Forecasting," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 618-628, August.
  3. Todd E. Clark & Michael W. McCracken, 1999. "Tests of equal forecast accuracy and encompassing for nested models," Research Working Paper 99-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  4. Jerry L. Jordan, 1992. "What monetary policy can and cannot do," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue May.
  5. Preston J. Miller & Daniel M. Chin, 1996. "Using monthly data to improve quarterly model forecasts," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 16-33.
  6. Margaret M. McConnell, 1998. "Rethinking the value of initial claims as a forecasting tool," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 4(Nov).
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