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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Ease
by Carol Stone  December 27, 2012

Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased last week (ended December 22) to 350,000 following an uptick the week before to 362,000 (revised marginally from 361,000). Consensus expectations had looked for a nearly unchanged figure of 360,000. This latest decrease took the four-week moving average down to 356,750, the lowest since March 15, 2008.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended December 15 declined to 3.206M (-9.9% y/y). The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.5%. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of December 8, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients rose 73,000 w/w to 5.476M. This was still down nearly one-quarter, more specifically, 24.3%, from a year ago, and compares to a cycle peak of 12.060M 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. Note that the Labor Department reports individual state data and the extended benefit program data with a one-week lag compared to the "regular program" national totals. The consensus estimates come from the Action Economics survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)
12/22/12 12/15/12 12/08/12 Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 350 362 344 -8.9 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3206 3238 -10.8 3745 4544 5807
Insured Unemployment Rate -- 2.5 2.5 2.8 (12/11) 3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.476M -24.3 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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