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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims Drop to 320K; Pre-Crisis Lows Sustained
by Carol Stone  August 15, 2013

Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to 320,000 (-12.8% y/y) in the August 10 week from 335,000 the week before, which was initially reported as 333,000. This latest figure is the lowest since October 6, 2007. It compares to an expected unchanged tally of 335,000 in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell further to a new cycle low of 332,000. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% negative correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended August 3 fell to 2.969 million (-10.3% y/y) from 3.023 million. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 2.986 million from the prior reading of 3.025 million. 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 July 27, the latest of the broader data available, the grand total of all benefit recipients rose to 4.587 million (-19.6% y/y). This broader measure is not seasonally adjusted. It compares to a cycle peak of 12.060 million in January 2010. The number of individuals who were collecting emergency and extended payments rose in the July 27 week to 1.553 million, but was still down 34.6% from a year ago. This item is also not seasonally adjusted.

By state, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending August 3 were in California (+3,481), Puerto Rico (+3,081), Ohio (+1,483), Tennessee (+1,016) and South Carolina (+693), while the largest decreases were in Illinois (-2,090), Oregon (-2,026), New Jersey (-1,672), Connecticut (-783) and Pennsylvania (-608). These weekly changes are based on Haver Analytics seasonal adjustment of the original Labor Department data.

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) 08/10/13 08/03/13 07/27/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 320 335 328 -9.5 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 2,969 3,023 -9.2 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) -- -- 4.587 mil. -21.4 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil. 9.850 mil.
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