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Economy in Brief

Unemployment Insurance Claims Move Higher
by Tom Moeller   September 23, 2010

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose 12,000 last week to 465,000 from an upwardly revised 453,000 in the week prior (originally 450,000). The 4-week moving average fell slightly to 463,250. The latest weekly decline contrasted with Consensus forecasts for a decline to 450,000. 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.

The latest claims figures cover the survey period for September nonfarm payrolls when there was a 39,000 (-7.7%) decline from the August period. During the last ten years there has been a 77% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment. 

Continuing claims for state-administered programs fell to 4.489M during the week of September 11 while the associated unemployment rate slipped to 3.5% from an upwardly revised 3.6%. 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, jumped 949,807 on September 3, the latest available figure and near the series' high. In July, the Congress renewed the special Emergency Unemployment Compensation program referred to as EUC 2008. By September 3, also the latest available for this program, it had 4.222 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 September 3rd, the total number of recipients was 9.180 million, off 0.3% y/y and 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.

Which Comes First: Inflation or the FOMC's Funds Rate Target? from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 09/18/10 09/11/10 09/04/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 465 453 457 -13.6% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,489 4,537 -26.0 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.5 3.6 4.6
4.4 2.5 1.9
Total Continuing Claims* (NSA) -- -- 9,180 -0.3% 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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