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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Fall Sharply to New Low
by Tom Moeller  May 2, 2013

Labor market improvement is continuing. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 324,000 (-12.7% y/y) during the week ended April 27 from a revised 342,000 during the prior week, initially reported as 339,000. Consensus expectations were for 345,000 claims. The latest was the lowest level since January 2008. The four week moving average of claims fell to 342,250. 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 April 20 ticked up to 3.019M (-8.8% y/y). The four week moving average of continuing claims slipped to 3.056M. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.3%. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of April 13, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to a not seasonally adjusted 4.963M, (-24.8% y/y. That compares to a cycle peak of 12.060M in January 2010. The number of individuals who are collecting emergency and extended payments was 1.777 million (-34.7% y/y).

By state, the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with Louisiana (1.25%), Virginia (1.28%), Texas (1.49%), Florida (1.53%), South Carolina (1.67%), Missouri (1.85%) and Ohio (1.95%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (2.83%),  Michigan (2.86%), Nevada (2.89%), Illinois (3.19%), California (3.37%), Wisconsin (3.56%) and New Jersey (3.58%).

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) 04/27/13 04/20/13 04/13/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 324 342 355 -12.7 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,019 3,007 -8.8 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.3 2.3 2.6
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 4.963M -24.8 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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