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Economy in Brief

U.S. Jobless Insurance Claims Retreat As Census-Worker Layoffs Near End
by Tom Moeller August 26, 2010

Perhaps, recent indications of sequential deterioration in the labor market have topped out. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell last week to 473,000 from 504,000 the week prior (originally 500,000). Claims were the lowest in four weeks when individuals who took the Census began wrapping up their work. Nevertheless, the 4-week moving average rose to 486,750, their highest since November of last year. The latest weekly decline outpaced Consensus forecasts for a drop to 490,000. During the last ten years there has been a 78% correlation between the level of initial unemployment insurance claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for state-administered programs edged down to 4.456M during the week of August 14 while the associated unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%. These claimants are, however, only about half of the total number of people currently receiving unemployment insurance. The regular extended benefits program, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, surged to 937,756 on August 7, the latest available figure. In July, the Congress renewed the special Emergency Unemployment Compensation program referred to as EUC 2008; by August 7th, also the latest available for this program, it had 4.9 million beneficiaries. It will now accept claims through November 30 and will be continuing to pay out benefits until April 30, 2011.

Haver Analytics calculates a grand total of all claimants for unemployment insurance; this series includes extended and emergency programs as well as selective programs for railway employees, recently discharged veterans and federal employees. All together, on August 7th, the total number of recipients was 10.2 million, up 7.6% y/y but down from the early-January high of 12.0 million. These data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance programs are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database and summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states, including the unemployment rates that determine individual state eligibility for the extended benefits programs and specific "tiers" of the emergency program, are in REGIONW, a database of weekly data for states and various regional divisions. Action Economics consensus forecasts for a collection of major economic indicators are contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 08/21/10 08/14/10 08/07/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 473 504 488 -16.6% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,456 4,518 -26.4 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.5 3.6 4.6 (08/09) 4.4 2.5 1.9
Total Continuing Claims* (000's, NSA) -- -- 10,198 +7.6% 9,085 3,884 2,584

* Calculated by Haver Analytics, as the sum of regular state programs, extended benefits, federal employees, veterans, railroad retirement board and "EUC" 2008.

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