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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Unemployment Insurance At Four Year Low
by Tom Moeller  March 1, 2012

Job market improvement is continuing. Initial unemployment insurance claims slipped last week at 351,000. The previous week was revised slightly higher to 353,000. The recent figures are the lowest since March 2008. Claims averaged 354,000 (-9.8% y/y) during the last four weeks, a new cycle low. The latest essentially matched Consensus expectations for 355,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance also slipped to 3.402M during the week of February 18 and were their lowest since August 2008. The insured rate of unemployment rate held at 2.7% w/w, 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 week of February 11th, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients ticked up to 7.499M (-18.8% y/y).

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied as of February 11 with Virginia (1.6%), Texas (1.7%), Florida (1.9%), 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 (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.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 02/25/12 02/18/12 02/11/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 351 353 351 -6.4 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,402 3,404 -11.5 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.7 2.7 3.1
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 7.499M -18.8 2.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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