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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Rebound
by Tom Moeller  May 26, 2011

Initial claims for jobless insurance rebounded to 424,000 from 414,000 during the week earlier, revised from 409,000. The latest figure was higher than Consensus expectations for 400,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims slipped to 438,500. During the last ten years there has been a 77% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 3.690M and the insured unemployment rate slipped to 2.9%. 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, fell to 633,946 during the week ending May 7 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, also saw a 3.412M beneficiaries (-32.5% y/y) in the May 7th 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 "work share" programs. All together, during the April 30th week, these recipients fell to 7.940M, off 22.5% y/y. We calculate a broader insured unemployment rate by taking this grand total as a percent of covered employment. The latest rate slipped to 5.0%. 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. Action Economics estimates are in AS1REPNA.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 5/21/11 5/14/11 5/7/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 424 414 438 -9.2 459 574 418
Continuing Claims -- 3,690 3,736 -20.5 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 2.9 3.0 3.6
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 7.740M -22.5 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance
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