An analysis of individual state claims serves as a kind of advance decline line for confirmation of the trend in the total numbers. The states report the data to the Department of Labor, which accumulates the data into its weekly national report. It’s also interesting to see how the big oil states are doing. Since they led the way on employment gains in the period of economic recovery since 2009, it’s a good bet that they are also leading on the way back down.

The impact of the oil price collapse started to show up in state claims data in the November-January period. While most states show the level of initial claims well below the levels of a year ago, in the oil producing states of Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, since the beginning of 2015 claims have been consistently above year ago levels. North Dakota and Louisiana claims first increased above the year ago level in November of last year. Texas reversed in late January. Oklahoma joined the wake shortly after that. Here are the current year to year comparisons.



The numbers have varied widely week to week but the trend of claims being significantly higher than the same week last year has been persistent with the recent exception of Louisiana, which had escaped the executioner’s noose in several weeks since mid July. Not so last week. Claims increased year to year in North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. The increases weren’t just marginal either. They were big.

Texas, with a huge and more diversified economy improved in the second quarter as the price of oil rebounded and stabilized, but that improvement was temporary and new claims in Texas have been climbing since the end of June. Last week the were up 13.9% versus the same week last year. That has been a clear warning sign for the rest of the nation.

In the September 5, week, 22 states had more claims than in the same week of 2014. That was up from 16 in the prior week and 15, two weeks before. This number fluctuates widely week to week with many states near even. At the end of the third quarter of 2014 just 5 states showed an increase in claims year to year. At the end of 2014 that had increased to 8. In early April this year the number had risen to 22.

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