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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Drop to Lowest Since January 2008
by Tom Moeller  January 17, 2013

Reaching a five-year low, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 335,000 (-8.0% y/y) during the week ended January 12 versus a little-revised 372,000 a week earlier. Consensus expectations were for 368,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims fell to 359,250, near the economic recovery's low. The latest initial claims figure covers the survey period for January nonfarm payrolls and was down 27,000 (7.5%) from the December period. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m chance in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended January 5 rose to 3.214M (-8.1% y/y). The insured rate of unemployment ticked up to 2.5% but still was near the lowest level since July 2008. 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 29, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients rose to 5.822M, down 25.6% from a year ago, and compares to a cycle peak of 12.060M in January 2010.

By state, the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with Virginia (1.53%), Texas (1.66%), Florida (1.70%), Tennessee (2.07%), Indiana (2.22%) and Ohio (2.58%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were California (3.44%), Michigan (3.49%), New York (3.61%), Illinois (3.73%), Massachusetts (3.75%), New Jersey (4.15%) and Pennsylvania (4.26%).

Data on weekly unemployment insurance are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database and they are summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states are in REGIONW. The consensus estimates come from the Action Economics survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.


Unemployment Insurance (000s) 01/12/12 01/05/12 12/29/12 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 335 372 367 -8.0 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,214 3,127 -8.1 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.5 2.4 2.8
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.822M -25.6 -- 7.750M 9.850M
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