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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Unemployment Insurance Fall To New Low
by Tom Moeller  February 16, 2012

Labor market improvement is gaining steam. Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 348,000 last week from 361,000 during the week prior (revised from 358,000). Claims averaged 365,250 (-12.9% y/y) during the last four weeks, the lowest since May, 2008. The latest compared to Consensus expectations for 365,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance also fell to 3.426M during the week of February 4 and were their lowest since August 2008. The insured rate of unemployment rate fell to 2.7%, 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 28th week, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients ticked higher to 7.682 mil. (-16.9% y/y).

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied as of January 28 with Virginia (1.7%), Texas (1.8%), Florida (2.0%), Arizona (2.3%), Tennessee (2.4%), and Ohio (2.7%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in New York (3.6%), Maine (3.7%), Michigan (4.0%), California (4.1%), New Jersey (4.4%), and Pennsylvania (5.0%).

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.

Is Unemployment Helpful in Understanding Inflation? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance(000s) 02/11/12 02/04/12 01/28/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 348 361 373 -17.1 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,426 3,526 -14.0 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- -- 2.7 3.2
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 7.682M -16.9 2.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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