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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Are Highest Since November
by Tom Moeller  January 12, 2012

Earlier workforce improvement seems to have stuttered. Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to 399,000 last week from 375,000 the week earlier (revised from 372,000). The latest reading was the highest reading since the last week of November. Expectations had been for 375,000 claims in the Action Economics survey.  The 4-week moving average ticked up to 381,750. For 2011 overall, claims fell to 409,000, the lowest level since 2007. 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 notched up to 3.628M in the last week of last year while the insured unemployment rate held at 2.9%. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the December 24th week, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients was 7.333 mil.

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied as of December 24th with Virginia (1.5%), Texas (1.9%), Florida (2.1%), Tennessee (2.4%), Ohio (2.5%) and Indiana (2.6%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in New York (3.3%), North Carolina (3.4%), California (3.6%), New Jersey (3.8%), Pennsylvania (4.1%) and Alaska (7.4%).

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 consensus estimates are in AS1REPNA.

Unemployment Insurance(000s) 01/0712 12/31/11 12/24/11 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 399 375 387 -8.7 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,628 3,609 -8.1 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.9 2.9 3.3
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 7.333M -20.2 -- 9.850M 9.163M
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