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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Climb to Highest Since October
by Tom Moeller  January 13, 2011

Initial claims for unemployment insurance jumped last week to 445,000 from 410,000 (initially reported as 409,000). The latest was higher than expectations for 402,000 according to Bloomberg. It also was the highest figure since the last week of October. The four-week moving average rose to 416,500. The Labor Department indicated that the holidays may have affected recent months' volatility.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance dropped a huge 248,000 to 3.879 million, their lowest since 2008. The insured unemployment rate also fell to 3.1%. These claimants, however, are only about half of the total number of people currently receiving unemployment insurance. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, fell to 862,331 during week ending December 25 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw 3.773M beneficiaries in the December 25 week.

A grand total of all claimants for unemployment insurance includes extended and emergency programs and specialized programs covering recently discharged veterans, federal employees and those in state-run "workshare" programs. All together, on December 25, the total number of all these recipients was 9.194M, off 15.6% y/y. We calculate a broader insured unemployment rate by taking this grand total as a percent of the covered employment series. That rate was over 7% on December 25. It peaked at 9.3% on January 2, 2010.

Two other programs, disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) and trade readjustment allowance (TRA), are reported through a different Labor Department channel and have no new data this week. All of these individual program data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance programs are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database, including the seasonal factor series, and they are 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.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 01/08/11 01/01/11 12/25/10 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 445 410 391 -5.3 457 572 419
Continuing Claims -- 3,879 4,150 -20.2 4,545 5,809 3,340
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.1 3.3 3.7
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 9.194M -15.6% 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance

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