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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Drop to 7-1/2-Year Low; Processing Issues May Have Impacted Report
by Carol Stone  September 12, 2013

Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the September 7 week dropped to 292,000 from 323,000 the week before, which was unrevised. The September 7 figure is the first below 300,000 since May 12, 2007, which was 297,000, and is the lowest since 283,000 the week of February 18, 2006. The Action Economics Forecast Survey looked for a small rise to 329,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 321,250, its lowest since October 13, 2007. Separate discussion from the Labor Department indicates that these otherwise impressive looking advance figures may well be revised since two states, not yet publicly identified, are known to have experienced processing difficulties last week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended August 31 declined to 2.871 million (-12.8% y/y) from 2.944 million in the August 24 week. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 2.953 million. The insured rate of unemployment decreased to 2.2%, the low since May 10, 2008. 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 24, the latest figure available, the total of all benefit recipients declined to 4.273 million (-20.7% y/y). This broader measure is not seasonally adjusted. It compares to a cycle peak of 12.060 million in January 2010 and pre-recession figures that averaged 2.596 million for 2007. The number of individuals who were collecting emergency and extended payments in the week of August 24 slipped to 1.455 million (-34.6% y/y) from 1.495 million the week before.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment ranged from lows of 0.40% in South Dakota, 0.52% in North Dakota to the high end with 3.12% in Pennsylvania, 3.27% in Arkansas, 3.38% in Connecticut, 3.56% in New Jersey and 4.28% in Puerto Rico.

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) 09/07/13 08/31/13 08/24/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 292 323 333 -23.8 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 2,871 2,944 -12.4 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.2 2.3 2.6
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 4.273 mil. -20.7 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil. 9.850 mil.
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