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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Nears Its Lowest In Years
by Tom Moeller December 8, 2011

Signs of labor market improvement are building. Initial claims for jobless insurance rose fell sharply last week to 381,000 from 404,000 (revised from 402,000) during the week prior. The latest reading was the lowest since February and was nearly the lowest since 2008. Expectations had been for 399,000 claims in the Action Economics survey. The 4-week moving average of claims fell to 393,250, its lowest since early-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 3.583M in the November 26th week, the lowest level since September 2008. The insured unemployment rate fell to 2.8%, also its lowest since 2008. By state, the rate varied as of November 19th with North Dakota (0.7%), Virginia (1.3%), Texas (1.7%), Florida (1.8%), Indiana (1.9%) and Tennessee (2.1%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in New York (2.9%), California (3.0%), South Carolina (3.0%), New Jersey (3.3%), Pennsylvania (3.5%) and Oregon (3.8%).

The grand total of those receiving unemployment insurance, including extended programs run by the states and the federal government, was 6.575M (-20.8% y/y) as of November 19. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, fell to 515,560 (-35.2% y/y) and those on the special "EUC 2008" programs fell to 2.794M (-24.7% y/y), its lowest since 2009.

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) 12/3/11 11/26/11 11/19/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 381 404 396 -10.4 461 577 413
Continuing Claims -- 3,583 3,757 -13.2 4,544 5,807 3,338
 Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.8 3.0 3.4
(11/10)
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- --  6.575M -20.8 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M
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