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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Fall Further
by Tom Moeller December 22, 2011

The labor market showed more improvement last week. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 364,000 from 368,000 (revised from 366,000) during the prior week. The latest reading was the lowest since May 2008. Expectations had been for and uptick to 375,000 claims in the Action Economics survey. The 4-week moving average of claims fell to 380,250, also its lowest since 2008. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

The latest claims figure covers the survey period for December nonfarm payrolls and they fell 28,000 (-7.1%) from the November period. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance also fell in the December 10th week, the lowest level since September 2008. The insured unemployment rate slipped to 2.8%, also its lowest since 2008. By state, the rate varied as of December 3rd with North Dakota (1.0%), Virginia (1.5%), Texas (1.7%), Florida (1.9%), Indiana (2.1%) and Tennessee (2.2%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in New York (3.0%), South Carolina (3.0%), New Jersey (3.5%), California (3.8%), Oregon (4.1%) and Pennsylvania (4.2%).

The grand total of those receiving unemployment insurance, including extended programs run by the states and the federal government, jumped w/w to 7.15M (-19.5% y/y) as of December 3rd. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, fell to 564,519 (-36.8% y/y) and those on the special "EUC 2008" programs fell to 2.941M (-22.4% 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.

Employment Patterns During the Recovery: Who are Getting the Jobs and Why? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is available here.

Unemployment Insurance(000s) 12/17/11 12/10/11 12/3/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 364 368 385 -13.9 461 577 413
Continuing Claims -- 3,546 3,625 -13.3 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.8 2.9 3.3
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 7.150M -19.5 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M
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