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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Move Lower Again
by Tom Moeller September 9, 2010

The downtrend continues. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 27,000 last week to 451,000 from an upwardly revised 478,000 in the week prior (originally 472,000). Claims remained the lowest in nine weeks, just before Census-takers began wrapping up their work. The 4-week moving average fell slightly to 477,750, still nearly the highest level since December of last year. The latest weekly decline outpaced Consensus forecasts for a drop to 468,000. 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 fell to 4.478M during the week of August 28 while the associated unemployment rate held at 3.5%. These claimants are, however, only about half of the total number of people currently receiving unemployment insurance. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, increased to 959,368 on August 21, the latest available figure. In July, the Congress renewed the special Emergency Unemployment Compensation program referred to as EUC 2008. By August 21, also the latest available for this program, it had 4.511 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 21st, the total number of recipients was 9.666 million, up 2.2% y/y but down from the early-January high of 11.989 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.

The Effect of Immigrants on U.S. Employment and Productivity from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 09/04/10 08/28/10 08/21/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 451 478 478 -18.9% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,478 4,480 -25.8 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- -- 3.5 4.6(08/09) 4.4 2.5 1.9
Total Continuing Claims* (NSA) -- -- 9,665,874 2.2% 9.085M 3.884M 2.584M

* 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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