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Economy in Brief

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

Initial claims for jobless insurance inched up to 336,000 during the week ended March 16 from 334,000 during the prior week (revised from 332,000). Consensus expectations were for 340,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims fell to 339,750, the lowest level since March 2008. The latest figure covers the survey week for March nonfarm payrolls and claims fell 22,000 (-6.1%) from February. 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 9 rose slightly to 3.053M (-9.8% y/y). The four week moving average of continuing claims fell to 3.076M, a cycle 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 March 2, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to a not seasonally adjusted 5.369M, -26.3% y/y. 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 (1.18%), Virginia (1.45%), Texas (1.50%), Florida (1.59%), Tennessee (1.87), Indiana (2.16%) and Ohio (2.40%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (3.28%), Michigan (3.43%), California (3.46), Maine (3.52%), Wisconsin (3.83%), Pennsylvania (4.06%) and New Jersey (4.08%).

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) 03/16/13 03/09/13 03/02/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 336 334 342 -7.7 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,053 3,048 -9.8 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) -- -- 5.369M -26.3 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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