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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Spike
by Tom Moeller  April 4, 2013

Initial claims for jobless insurance jumped to 385,000 (4.6% y/y) during the week ended March 30 from an unrevised 357,000 during the prior week Consensus expectations were for 349,000 claims. This latest claims figure was the highest since late-November. The four week moving average of claims increased to 354,250, its highest level in five weeks. 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 23 dipped to 3.063M (-8.9% y/y). The four week moving average of continuing claims fell to another cycle low of 3.067M. 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 16, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to a not seasonally adjusted 5.289M, -25.0% 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 (1.09%), Virginia (1.40%), Texas (1.54%), Florida (1.56%), South Carolina (1.75%), Indiana (2.00%) and Ohio (2.29%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (3.16%), Michigan (3.25%), Illinois (3.45%), California (3.64%), Wisconsin (3.69%), Pennsylvania (3.90%) and New Jersey (3.97%).

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) 03/30/13 03/23/13 03/16/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 385 357 341 4.6 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,063 3,071 -8.9 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) -- -- 5.289 -25.0 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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