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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Unemployment Insurance Jump
by Tom Moeller  January 27, 2011

Initial claims for unemployment insurance surged last week to the highest level since late-October. The increase to 454,000 was from a revised 403,000 during the prior week, initially reported as 404,000. The gain by far outpaced Consensus expectations for 405,000 claims.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance also increased to 3.991 million while the insured unemployment rate ticked up to 3.2%. These claimants, however, were 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 835,539 during week ending January 8 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw 3.783M beneficiaries in the January 8 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 January 8, the total number of all these recipients slipped to 9.411M, off 18.4% y/y but the latest level was near the highest since August. We calculate a broader insured unemployment rate by taking this grand total as a percent of covered employment. That rate was just under 6% in January. 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. Claimants were the lowest since June in late December. 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) 1/22/11 1/15/11 1/8/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 454 403 447 -4.6 457 572 419
Continuing Claims -- 3,991 3,897 -17.5 4,545 5,809 3,340
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.2 3.1 3.7
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 9.411M  -18.4% 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance
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