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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Continue Downward
by Tom Moeller  September 5, 2013

Improvement in the labor market is coming from all quarters. Initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 323,000 (-12.2% y/y) during the week of August 31 from 332,000 in the week prior, initially reported as 331,000. The latest figure fell short of an expected 330,000 in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 328,500, a new low for the economic recovery.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended August 24 declined to 2.951 million (-11.0% y/y) from 2.994 million. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 2.980 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 August 17, the latest figure available, the total of all benefit recipients rose slightly to 4.396 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 slipped to 1.495 million (-34.0% y/y).

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Nebraska (0.96%), Virginia (1.21%), Indiana (1.46%), Ohio (1.50%), Tennessee (1.51%), Georgia (1.58%), Texas (1.59%) and Florida (1.63%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (1.86%), Massachusetts (2.42%), Illinois (2.67%), New York (2.73%), California (3.12%), Pennsylvania (3.22%) and New Jersey (3.56%).

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) 08/31/13 08/24/13 08/17/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 323 332 337 -12.2 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 2,951 2,994 -11.0 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) -- -- 4.396 mil. -19.6 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil. 9.850 mil.
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