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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Claims For Unemployment Insurance Fall; Trend Remains Flat
by Tom Moeller   October 21, 2010

A sidle to the right is the continuing step for initial claims for unemployment insurance. They fell to 452,000 last week from 475,000 during the prior week. That figure, however, was revised up from 462,000. Claims first hit these levels late in November 2009. The 4-week moving average fell slightly to 458,000 and the latest weekly figure about matched Consensus forecasts for 453,000 claims.

The latest figure covers the survey week for October nonfarm payrolls and claims fell 17,000 (3.6%) from the September period. During the last ten years there has been a 77% correlation between the level of initial unemployment insurance claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for state-administered programs slipped in the latest week to near the lowest level since late-2008. The associated unemployment rate held steady at 3.5% and continued its sideways movement since March. 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 1.034M on October 2, the latest figure available. In July, the Congress renewed the special Emergency Unemployment Compensation program referred to as EUC 2008. By October 2, it had a sharply reduced 4.040 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 October 2, the total number of recipients was 8.862 million, off 2.2% 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.

The Fed's latest Beige Book covering regional economic conditions can be found here here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 10/16/10 10/09/10 10/02/10 Y/Y % 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 452 475 449 -15.5 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,441 4,450 -24.6 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.5 3.5 4.4
4.4 2.5 1.9
Total Continuing Claims* (NSA) -- -- 8.862M -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

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