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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Fall Unexpectedly; Grand Total At Recovery Low
by Tom Moeller  August 9, 2012

Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 361,000 during the week ended August 4 from 367,000 during the prior week, revised from 365,000. An uptick in claims to 370,000 had been expected. The four-week moving average of claims increased slightly to a still-low 368,250. During the last ten years there has been a 72% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose w/w to 3.332M (-9.8% y/y) during the week of July 28. The insured rate of unemployment held steady at 2.6% where it's been since March. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of July 21, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to a recovery low of 5.750M, down -23.1% y/y and down 50% from the peak in January 2010.

By state the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (0.53%), Virginia (1.37%), Texas (1.72%), Ohio (1.79%), Indiana (1.81%), Georgia (2.03%) and Florida (2.05%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Illinois (2.84%), Nevada (3.14%), New York (3.16%), California (3.54%), Connecticut (3.61%), Pennsylvania (3.80%) and New Jersey (3.82%).

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) 08/04/12 07/28/12 07/21/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 361 367 357 -9.5 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,332 3,279 -9.8 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) -- -- 5.750M -23.1 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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