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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Retreat
by Tom Moeller  February 28, 2013

Initial unemployment insurance claims declined to 344,000 (-8.8% y/y) during the week ended February 23 versus 366,000 a week earlier (revised from 362,000). Consensus expectations were for 360,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims fell to 355,000. 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 16 declined to 3.074M (-10.3% y/y), the lowest level since June 2008. The four week moving average of continuing claims also fell to a 3.155M, a new recovery low. The insured rate of unemployment slipped to 2.4%, the lowest level since July 2008. (The prior week's figure was revised slightly upward.) This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of February 9, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients nudged up to a not seasonally adjusted 5.764M, down 23.1% 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 (1.22%), Virginia (1.52%), Texas (1.59%), Florida (1.64%), Alabama (1.98%), Hawaii (2.03%), Indiana (2.27%) and Ohio (2.52%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (3.40%), New York (3.42%), Maine (3.57%), California (3.85%), Wisconsin (3.97%), New Jersey (4.21%), Pennsylvania (4.25%) and Alaska (6.49%).

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) 02/23/13 02/16/13 02/09/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 344 366 342 -7.8 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,074 3,165 -10.3 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.4 2.5 2.7
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.764M -23.1 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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