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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Post An Unexpected Decline
by Tom Moeller  March 14, 2013

Signs of improvement in the U.S. labor market are continuing to surface.Initial claims for jobless insurance fell to 332,000 (-8.5% y/y) during the week ended March 9 versus 342,000 a week earlier (revised from 342,000). Consensus expectations were for 350,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims fell to 346,750, the lowest level since March 2008. 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 March 2 fell to 3.024M (-10.9% y/y), a new low for the economic recovery. The four week moving average of continuing claims fell to 3.098M. 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 February 23, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients backed up to a not seasonally adjusted 5.620M. 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%), Virginia (1.49%), Texas (1.56%), Florida (1.62%), Tennessee (1.90), Indiana (2.20%) and Ohio (2.44%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (3.37%), New York (3.43%), Maine (3.56%), California (3.74%), Wisconsin (3.88%), New Jersey (4.20%) and Pennsylvania (4.11%).

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.

What's Driving Medical-Care Spending Growth? from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.



Unemployment Insurance (000s) 03/09/13 03/02/13 02/23/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 332 342 347 -8.5 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,024 3,113 -10.9 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.4 2.4 2.6
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.620M -24.3 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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