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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Are Lowest Since April
by Tom Moeller  November 10, 2011

In a sign of modest labor market improvement, initial claims for jobless insurance fell last week to 390,000 from 400,000 (revised from 397,000) during the week prior. The latest figure compared to 400,000 expected in the Action Economics survey. The 4-week moving average of claims slipped to 400,000, also its lowest since April. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to 3.615M in the October 29th week, their lowest of the economic recovery. The insured unemployment rate held at 2.9%. By state, the rate varied as of October 22nd with Virginia (1.4%), New Hampshire (1.6%), Texas (1.7%), Minnesota (1.8%), Indiana (1.9%), Tennessee (2.0%) and Florida (2.0%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in Illinois (2.9%), South Carolina (3.0%), Connecticut (3.1%), Nevada (3.2%), New Jersey (3.4%), California (3.5%) and Pennsylvania (3.5%).

The grand total of those receiving unemployment insurance, including extended programs run by the states and the federal government, was 6.836M (-21.5% y/y) as of October 22nd. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, were roughly stable at 575,791 (-36.8% y/y) and those on the special "EUC 2008" programs ticked up to 2.934M (-24.3% y/y).

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) 11/5/11 10/29/11 10/22/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 390 400 406 -10.6 461 577 413
Continuing Claims -- 3,615 3,707 -16.2 4,544 5,807 3,338
 Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 2.9 2.9 3.4
(11/10)
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 6.836 -21.5 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M
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