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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Pull Back
by Tom Moeller  May 23, 2013

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 340,000 (-8.4% y/y) during the week ended May 18 from a revised 363,000 during the prior week, initially reported as 360,000. Consensus expectations were for 345,000 claims. The four week moving average of claims was roughly unchanged at 339,500 versus 400,000 last week.

Fewer filings for jobless insurance suggest increased employment. The latest claims figure covers the survey week for May nonfarm payrolls and claims fell 15,000 (4.2%) from the April period. During the last ten years, there has been a 74% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended May 11 fell sharply to a new low of 2.912M (-11.7% y/y). The four week moving average of continuing claims fell to 2.995M. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.3% where it's been for five 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 May 4, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to a new low of 4.745M, (-23.1% 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 slipped to 1.777 million (-32.5% y/y).

By state, the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with Virginia (1.23%), Louisiana (1.23%), Texas (1.48%), Florida (1.53%), Tennessee (1.53%), South Carolina (1.61%), Missouri (1.71%) and Ohio (1.77%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (2.15%), New York (2.57%), Massachusetts (2.59%), Illinois (2.81%), Wisconsin (2.82%), (Nevada (2.91%), New Jersey (3.19%) and California (3.28%).

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 minutes to the latest FOMC meeting can be found here.


Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/18/13 05/11/13 05/04/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 340 363 328 -8.4 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 2,912 3,024 -11.7 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) -- -- 4.745M -23.1 6.047M 7.750M 9.850M
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