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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Unexpectedly Move Up
by Tom Moeller  March 28, 2013

Initial claims for jobless insurance rose to 357,000 during the week ended March 23 from 341,000 during the prior week (revised from 336,000). Consensus expectations were for 340,000 claims. This latest claims figure was the highest in five weeks. The four week moving average of claims rose modestly to 343,000. 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 March 16 dipped to 3.050M (-9.5% y/y). The four week moving average of continuing claims fell to another cycle low of 3.073M. 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 9, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to a not seasonally adjusted 5.456M, -23.8% 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 (1.16%), Virginia (1.43%), Texas (1.50%), Florida (1.56%), South Carolina (1.82%), Indiana (2.08%) and Ohio (2.37%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (3.21%), Michigan (3.22%), Illinois (3.59%), California (3.67%), Wisconsin (3.78%), Pennsylvania (3.94%) and New Jersey (4.04%).

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) 03/23/13 03/16/13 03/09/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 357 341 334 -1.7 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,050 3,077 -9.5 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) -- -- 5.456 -23.8 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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