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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Remain Near April Low
by Tom Moeller  August 4, 2011

Initial unemployment insurance claims slipped last week to 400,00 from a revised 401,000, initially reported as 398,000. The latest figure remained the lowest since the first week of April. Consensus expectations had been for 405,000 initial claims for last week. The four-week moving average fell to 407,750. 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 ticked up to 3.730M, still near the lowest since early-June. The insured unemployment rate held at 3.0% versus an upwardly revised 3.0%. 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 533,450 (-14.6% y/y) during the week ending July 16 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw 3.185M beneficiaries (-4.4% y/y) in the July 16th 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 July 16th week, these recipients fell to 7.570M, down 12.2% y/y. We calculate a broader insured unemployment rate by taking this grand total as a percent of covered employment. The latest rate slipped w/w to 4.9%. 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. Claims 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.

Does Headline Inflation Converge To Core? from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 7/30/11 7/23/11 7/16/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 400 401 422 -16.6 459 574 418
Continuing Claims -- 3,730 3,720 -17.7 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.0 3.0 3.6
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 7.570M -12.2 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M
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