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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Unemployment Insurance Are Unchanged
by Tom Moeller  May 17, 2012

Initial unemployment insurance claims held steady during the week of May 12 at 370,000. Consensus expectations were for 365,000 filings. The figure for two weeks ago was revised up from 367,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims slipped to 375,000. The latest claims figure covers the survey week for May payroll employment and it fell 19,000 (4.9%) from the April period. During the last ten years there has been a 72% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose to 3.265M during the week of May 5. The increase followed two weeks of decline but remained near the lowest since July 2008. The insured rate of unemployment slipped to 2.5%, the lowest also since July 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 April 21, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to 6.274M (-21.2% y/y), the lowest level since December 2008.

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied greatly with Virginia (1.3%), Texas (1.6%), Florida (1.8%), Louisiana (1.8%), Tennessee (1.8%), Indiana (1.9%) and Colorado (2.2%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in Michigan (2.8%), New York (2.9%), Massachusetts (3.0%), Connecticut (3.3%), New Jersey (3.5%), Pennsylvania (3.6%), California (3.7%) and Alaska (5.3%).

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.

The minutes to the latest FOMC meeting are available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/12/12 05/05/12 04/28/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 370 370 368 -11.5 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,265 3,247 -12.9 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.6 2.5 3.0
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 6.274M -21.2 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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