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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Rise
by Tom Moeller  May 31, 2012

Initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 383,000 during the week of May 26 compared to 373,000 during the week prior, revised up from 370,000. Consensus expectations were for 369,000 filings. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 374,500. During the last ten years there has been a 74% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance decreased to 3.242M during the week of May 19. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.6% where it's been for the last ten weeks. 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 12, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell further to 6.138M, down -20.4% y/y and down almost 49% from the peak in January 2010.

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied greatly with North Dakota (0.55%) at the low end along with Virginia (1.32%), Texas (1.58%), Florida (1.86%) and Georgia (2.0%). At the high end of the range were Illinois (3.04%), Connecticut (3.19%), New Jersey (3.33%), Pennsylvania (3.56%) and California (3.58%).

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.

Self-Employment an Option for Workers Who Lose Jobs in Economic Slowdowns from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/26/12 05/19/12 05/12/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 383 373 372 -9.7 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,242 3,278 -13.6 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) -- -- 6.138M -20.4 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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