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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Up 5K; Some Claims Related to Verizon Strike
by Carol Stone  August 25, 2011

Initial unemployment insurance claims remained above 400,000 yet again, but at least this week there is one good reason for this elevated level: the strike of union members against Verizon Communications. Indeed, the Labor Department cites this in a separate sentence above the text of its regular press release. In the week ended August 20, initial claims were 417,000, up from 412,000 the previous week (revised from 408,000). In the August 20 week, 8,500 of the claims were a direct result of the Verizon strike following 12,500 in the August 13 week. For the August 20 report, the Action Economics consensus survey forecast looked for 405,000. The 4-week average reached 407,500, up from 403,000 the prior week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance turned lower in the August 13 week, falling 80,000 to 3.641M and setting a new low since the autumn of 2008. The insured unemployment rate moved back down to 2.9% from 3.0% the week before. At the same time, of course, this group covers only those on regular state unemployment insurance programs. Data on various extended programs run by the States and the federal government yield a grand total of 7,290,189 claimants through August 6; this is a decrease of 45,989 from the week before that and a decline of 28.2% from a year ago. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, rose 23,413 to 550,903, but the special 2008 "EUC 2008" programs shrank by 43,827 to 3,086,781. As the week before, the regular extended benefits were available in 32 states and the District of Columbia, the Labor Department reported.

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) 8/20/11 8/13/11 8/06/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 417 412 399 -11.1 459 574 418
Continuing Claims 3641 3,721 -18.4 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) 2.9 3.0 3.5
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- 7.290M -28.2 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M
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