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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Claims Fall Slightly 
by Tom Moeller  June 16, 2011

They fell, but not by much. Initial claims for jobless insurance declined 3.7% during the June 11th week to 414,000 from 430,000 during the week prior, initially reported as 427,000. The latest decline was to the same level as four weeks earlier and it compared to Consensus expectations for 420,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims held steady at 424,750. 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 held roughly steady at 3.675M, about where they've been since mid-April. The insured unemployment rate also was steady at 2.9%, where it's been since late-February. 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 591,124 during the week ending May 28 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw a 3.294M beneficiaries (-32.4% y/y) in the May 28th 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 May 28th week, these recipients fell to 7.401M, off 22.9% 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 4.8%. 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 early-2009. 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.

The Rise in Long-Term Unemployment: Potential Causes and Implications from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 6/11/11 6/4/11 5/28/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 414 430 426 -12.7 459 574 418
Continuing Claims -- 3,675 3,696 -19.8 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 2.9 2.9 3.6
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 7.401M -22.9 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance
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