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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Pull Back Somewhat
by Tom Moeller  November 21, 2012

Initial claims for jobless insurance fell last week, but remained elevated after Hurricane Sandy. Claims fell during the week ended November 17 to 410,000 from 451,000 during the prior period, initially reported as 439,000. The four week moving average rose to 396,250, its highest in just over one year. Consensus expectations were for 405,000 claims for last week.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for November nonfarm payrolls; claims rose 18,000 (4.6%) from October. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended November 10 pulled back to 3.337M (-9.2% y/y). The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.6%, up from 2.5% averaged during October. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of November 3, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients rose w/w to 5.241M, the highest level since late August. Nevertheless, the latest figure was down 22.1% y/y and was off by more than one-half since the peak in January 2010.

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) 11/17/12 11/10/12 11/03/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 410 451 361 4.9 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,337 3,361 -9.2 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.6  2.6 2.9
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.241M -22.1 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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