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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Jump To Highest Since April
by Tom Moeller August 05, 2010

The already weak labor market suffered an unexpected setback last week. Initial claims for jobless insurance rose to 479,000 from 460,000, revised up from 457,000, during the prior week. The latest level was the highest since early-April and just missed the highest since February. The four-week moving average of initial claims which smoothes out some of the w/w volatility also rose to 458,500, the highest level since early-July. Nonetheless, these figures remain down from the recession peak of 651,000 reached in March of 2009. The latest weekly figure was higher than Consensus expectations for 455,000 claims.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week fell to 4.537M and remained off by one-third from the June '09 peak. 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 rose slightly to 4.576M. This series dates back to 1966. 

Ongoing claims do not reflect those who receive extended benefits. Extended benefits for unemployment insurance jumped 603,583 after moving erratically sideways since late-May. These figures do not include the 3,314,629 benefit recipients under state administered "EUC" emergency programs, but paid for by the Federal government. These benefits recently were extended.

The insured unemployment rate remained stable at 3.6%. 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 July 17 were in Puerto Rico (7.2%), Pennsylvania (5.3), Oregon (4.8), Massachusetts (4.7), New Jersey (4.7), California (4.6), Connecticut (4.5), Nevada (4.5), Alaska (4.4), Rhode Island (4.3), and Wisconsin (4.3). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in Virginia (1.9), Wyoming (2.1), Texas (2.4), Maine (2.7), Tennessee (2.8), Georgia (3.1), Maryland (3.2), Florida (3.4), Ohio (3.6), New York (3.6) and North Carolina  (3.7). 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.

We Do Not Have Liftoff from the American Enterprise Institute can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 07/31/10 07/24/10 07/17/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 479 460 468 -14.3% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,537 4,571 -26.7 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.6 3.6 4.6 (7/2009) 4.4 2.5 1.9
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