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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Continue Downward
by Tom Moeller  May 9, 2013

Momentum behind the labor market's improvement is building. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 323,000 (-11.7% y/y) during the week ended May 4 from a revised 327,000 during the prior week, initially reported as 324,000. Consensus expectations were for 335,000 claims. The latest was the lowest level since January 2008. The four week moving average of claims fell to 336,750. 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 27 also fell to a new low of 3.005M (-8.3% y/y). The four week moving average of continuing claims slipped to 3.034M. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.3% where it's been for three weeks. 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 20, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to a not seasonally adjusted 4.875M, (-24.1% 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 1.763 million (-34.4% y/y).

By state, the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with Virginia (1.25%), Louisiana (1.26%), Oklahoma (1.36%),  Florida (1.49%), Texas (1.52%), South Carolina (1.67%), Ohio (1.85%) and Missouri (1.86%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (2.53%), New York (2.73%), Massachusetts (2.99%), Nevada (3.00%), Illinois (3.05%), California (3.19%), Wisconsin (3.34%) and New Jersey (3.37%).

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. 

The Vanishing Middle: Job Polarization and Workers' Response to the Decline in Middle-Skill Jobs from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City can be found here.


Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/04/13 04/27/13 04/20/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 323 327 342 -11.7 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 3,005 3,032 -8.3 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) -- -- 4.875M -24.1 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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