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Unemployment claims are a useful indicator of the health of the state’s economy. As the figure below shows, unemployment claims have been near historic lows for over a year. February 2019 claims continued to be low by historic standards, totaling 184,000. (We apply a “seasonal adjustment” to the claims data because some months are predictably higher or lower than others.) 

Monthly Unemployment Claims in California

Since December 2018, California has averaged 181,000 claims per month. This is up a bit from the 173,000 claims per month during the summer and fall of 2018. In March, claims were about 4 percent higher than six months prior. As the graph below shows, unemployment claims typically rise over the six months leading into a recession. The slight uptick over recent months, however, is more modest than the typical increase leading into a recession. On average, claims increase 8 percent over the six months leading into a recession.

12 Month Trend in Unemployment Claims

Source: United States Department of Labor with LAO calculations


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