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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Rise
by Tom Moeller  April 12, 2012

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose 13,000 to 380,000 last week and this figure was the highest level since the end of January. The weekly number compared to Consensus expectations for 355,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose slightly to 368,500 but remained near the cycle's low. During the last ten years there has been a 74% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell sharply to 3.251M during the week of March 31, their lowest since July 2008. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.6%, the lowest since August 2008. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of March 24, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to 6.953M (-16.4% y/y).

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied greatly with Virginia (1.5%), Texas (1.6%), Florida (1.8%), Louisiana (1.9%), Arizona (2.1%), Tennessee (2.1%), and Indiana (2.2%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in New York (3.3%), Massachusetts (3.6%), Michigan (3.6%), Illinois (3.8%), California (3.9% ), New Jersey (4.0%), and Pennsylvania (4.3%).

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) 04/07/12 03/31/12 03/24/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 380 367 363 -8.7 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,251 3,349 -13.1 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.6 2.6 3.0
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 6.953M -18.4 2.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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