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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Tick Higher
by Tom Moeller  February 21, 2013

Initial unemployment insurance claims rose to 362,000 (0.0% y/y) during the week ended February 16 versus a little-revised 342,000 a week earlier. Consensus expectations were for 354,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims increased to 360,750, its highest in five weeks. The latest figure covers the survey period for February nonfarm payrolls and claims rose 27,000 (8.1%) versus January. 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 February 9 rose to 3.148M (-7.7% y/y). The four week moving average of continuing claims dropped to 3.186M, a new recovery low. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.4%, 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 26, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients nudged up again to a not seasonally adjusted 5.610M, down 25.1% 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 (1.25%), Virginia (1.54%), Texas (1.56%), Florida (1.66%), Utah (1.96%), Tennessee (2.00%), Indiana (2.29%) and Ohio (2.50%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (3.42%), Michigan (3.54%), California (3.61%), Massachusetts (3.66%), Wisconsin (4.09%), New Jersey (4.17%), Pennsylvania (4.33%) and Alaska (6.40%).

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) 02/16/13 02/09/13 02/02/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 362 342 368 0.0 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,148 3,137 -7.7 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.4 2.4 2.7
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.610M -25.1 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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