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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Increase
by Tom Moeller  August 23, 2012

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 372,000 during the week ended August 18 from 368,000 during the prior week, revised from 366,000. Consensus expectations were for 365,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims nudged up to 368,000.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for August nonfarm payrolls. Claims fell 16,000 (-4.1%) from the July survey period. 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 fell w/w to 3.317M (-11.2% y/y) during the week of August 11. The insured rate of unemployment remained  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 August 4, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell sharply to a recovery low of 5.594M, down -23.2% y/y and down more than 50% from the peak in January 2010.

By state the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with North Dakota (0.63%), Virginia (1.35%), Texas (1.64%), Ohio (1.72%), Indiana (1.79%), Louisiana (1.98%), Georgia (2.00%) and Florida (2.02%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Illinois (2.82%), Nevada (3.03%), New York (3.07%), California (3.47%), Alaska (3.58%), Connecticut (3.61%), New Jersey (3.74%) and Pennsylvania (3.75%).

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.

The minutes to the latest FOMC meeting can be found here.


Unemployment Insurance (000s) 08/18/12 08/11/12 08/04/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 372 368 364 -10.1 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,317 3,313 -11.2 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) -- -- 5.594M -23.2 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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