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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Basically Steady
by Carol Stone  May 24, 2012

Initial unemployment insurance claims totaled 370,000 in the week of May 19; those in the week of May 12 were revised up 2,000 to 372,000. Consensus expectations for the later period were for 367,000 filings. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 370,000 in the May 19 week from 375,500 the week before.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 3.260M during the week of May 12; the May 5 number was revised from 3.265M to 3.289M. The insured rate of unemployment was also revised upward a notch for that week, to 2.6%, and it remained there in the May 12 period; this is the ninth consecutive week at that level, 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 May 5, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell further to 6.169M, down -20.5% y/y and down almost 49% from the peak in January 2010.

By state, the insured unemployment rates varied greatly; the very lowest are in South Dakota (0.57%) and North Dakota (0.59%); among more populous areas, rates are below 2% in Virginia (1.35%), Texas (1.51%), and Florida (1.78%), among others; 19 states have rates below 2%. Ten states plus Puerto Rico have rates above 3%, including Illinois (3.12%), Pennsylvania (3.55%) and California (3.56%).

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 survey estimates are in AS1REPNA.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/19/12 05/12/12 05/05/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 370 372 370 -12.7 409 459 574
Continuing Claims 3,260 3,265 -12.8 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) -- 6.168M -20.5 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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