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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Fall Back
by Tom Moeller  February 3, 2011

Initial claims for unemployment insurance last week fell back and retraced most of the prior week's jump. The decline to 415,000 from a revised 457,000, initially reported as 454,000, was greater than expectations for a decline to 420,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance also reversed most of last week's increase and fell to 3.925 million while the insured unemployment rate ticked lower to 3.1%. 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 898,381 during week ending January 15 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw 3.653M beneficiaries in the January 15 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 9.299M, off 19.8% 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) 1/29/11 1/22/11 1/15/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 415 457 403 -15.3 457 572 419
Continuing Claims -- 3,925 4,009 -19.3 4,545 5,809 3,340
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.1 3.2 3.7
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 9,298,859 -19.8% 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance
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