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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Trend Lower
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2013

The rate of improvement in the labor market is rising. Initial claims for unemployment insurance notched down to 366,000 (-1.3% y/y) during the week ended February 2 versus a revised 371,000 a week earlier, reported initially as 368,000. Consensus expectations were for 360,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims fell to 350,500, a new low for the economic recovery. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended January 26 ticked up to 3.224M (-8.3% y/y). Here again, however, the four week moving average of continuing claims was down in January and near the recovery's low. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.5%, 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 January 19, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients rose to a not seasonally adjusted 5.590M, down 27.1% from a year ago. That compares to a cycle peak of 12.060M in January 2010.

By state, the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (1.21%), Oklahoma (1.53%), Virginia (1.56%), Florida (1.69%) Texas (1.68%), Tennessee (2.05%), Indiana (2.28%) and Ohio (2.51%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were California (3.37%), New York (3.38%), Michigan (3.62%), Massachusetts (3.68%), Illinois (3.70%), Idaho, (3.98%), New Jersey (4.14%) and Pennsylvania (4.24%).

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. 

Long-term Unemployment: What Do We Know? from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.


Unemployment Insurance (000s) 02/02/13 01/26/13 01/19/12 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 366 371 330 -1.3 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,224 3,216 -8.3 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.5 2.5 2.8
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.590M -27.1 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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