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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Remain Near Recovery Low
by Tom Moeller  October 3, 2013

Initial claims for jobless insurance ticked up last week to 308,000, but that was just slightly higher than the low early last month of 294,000. During the prior week ended September 21, claims were revised up to 307,000 from 305,000. Expectations had been for an increase in claims to 315,000 according to the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 305,000, its lowest level since late-May 2007.

The U.S. Department of Labor has indicated that there will be no jobs report tomorrow due the government shutdown. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial unemployment insurance claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended September 21 increased to 2.925 million (-10.7% y/y) from 2.821 million a week earlier. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to a cycle-low of 2.837 million. The insured rate of unemployment ticked up to 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 September 14, the latest figure available, the total of all benefit recipients inched up to 4.002 million (-21.3% 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 September 14 rose slightly to 1.470 million (-31.4% y/y).

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with North Dakota (0.38%), Virginia (1.11%), Louisiana (1.30%), Ohio (1.33%), Indiana (1.44%), Maine (1.50%) and Texas (1.51%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (1.68%), Wisconsin (1.99%), New York (2.34%), California (2.43%), Illinois (2.44%), Pennsylvania (2.70%) and New Jersey (3.07%).

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) 09/28/13 09/21/13 09/14/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 308 307 311 -16.3 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 2,925 2,821 -10.7 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.3 2.2 2.6
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 4.002 mil. -21.3 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil. 9.850 mil.
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