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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Continue To Trend Lower
by Tom Moeller  February 9, 2012

Signs of labor market improvement continue to be evident. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 358,000 last week. The decline was from 373,000 during the week prior (revised from 367,000) and compared to Consensus expectations for 370,000. Claims averaged 366,250 (-12.4% y/y) during the last four weeks, the lowest since May, 2008.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance moved higher to 3.515M during the week of January 28. Nevertheless, claims remained near their lowest since 2008. The insured rate of unemployment rate nudged up to 2.8% but still was near the recovery low. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the January 21st week, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients ticked higher to 7.663 mil. (-17.5% y/y).

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied as of January 21 with Virginia (1.7%), Texas (1.9%), Florida (2.0%), Arizona (2.3%), Tennessee (2.5%), Indiana (2.8% and Ohio (2.8%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in New York (3.6%), Maine (3.7%), California (4.0%), Michigan (4.1%), New Jersey (4.3%), and Pennsylvania (4.5%) and Oregon (4.9%).

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.

Explaining the Decline in the U.S. Labor Force Participation Rate from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

Unemployment Insurance(000s) 02/04/12 01/28/12 01/21/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 358 373 379 -8.4 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,515 3,451 -10.7 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.8 2.7 3.2
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 7.663M -18.1 2.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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