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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Slip & Continue Sideways Trend
by Tom Moeller June 24, 2010

Volatility around a sideways trend continued as the pattern, since December, for initial claims for unemployment insurance. Claims fell 19,000 last week to 457,000 following a 17,000 gain during the prior week. Consensus expectations were for 460,000 claims. Last week's figure was down from the recession peak of 651,000 reached in March of 2009. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell slightly to 462,750.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week fell 45,000 and reversed roughly half of the prior week's increase. Claims were down by one-third from the June '09 peak and remained near the lowest level since December of 2008. The overall decline is a function of the improved job market but also reflects the exhaustion of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. The four-week average of continuing claims slipped to 4.587M, a new cycle low. This series dates back to 1966. 

 Ongoing claims do not reflect those who receive extended benefits. Extended benefits for unemployment insurance surged during the latest week to 563,236 and it was the highest level since October. These figures do not include the 4,733,012 benefit recipients (+90.0% y/y) under state administered "EUC" emergency programs, but paid for by the Federal government.

The insured unemployment rate slipped to 3.5%. It reached a high of 4.9% during May of 2009. During the last ten years, there has been a 96% correlation between the level of the insured unemployment rate and the overall rate of unemployment published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending week ending June 5 were in Puerto Rico (6.3 percent), Oregon (5.2), Alaska (5.1), Nevada (4.5), Pennsylvania (4.5), California (4.4), Wisconsin (4.2), Connecticut (4.1), North Carolina (4.1), and Washington (4.0). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in Virginia (1.8), Texas (2.1), Wyoming (2.3), Tennessee (2.7), Maryland (2.8), Maine (2.8), Ohio (2.9), Georgia (3.0), Florida (3.0) and New York (3.3). These data are not seasonally adjusted but the overall insured unemployment rate is.

The unemployment insurance claims data is available in Haver's WEEKLY database and the state data is in the REGIONW database.

Training or search? evidence and an equilibrium model from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 06/19/10 06/12/10 06/05/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 457 476 459 -25.4% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,548 4,593 -29.8 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.5 3.6 4.9(6/2009) 4.4 2.5 1.9
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