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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Dip, Though Remain Elevated
by Tom Moeller  October 24, 2013

The status of the job market remains unclear. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 350,000 (-5.9% y/y) during the week ended October 19 from 362,000 during the prior week, initially reported as 358,000. In coming weeks, claims may move lower as a processing backlog in California is reduced and claims fall with the end of the government shutdown. For last week, the Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 340,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims increased to 348,250, its highest level since mid-July. During the last ten years there has been a 74% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended October 12 slipped to 2.874 million (-11.7% y/y). The figure remained up from the early-September low of 2.788 million. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose slightly to 2.895 million. The insured rate of unemployment held steady at 2.2%. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of October 5, the latest figure available, the total of all benefit recipients fell to 3.857 million (-21.7% 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 collecting emergency and extended payments in the week of October 5 fell to 1.325 million (-35.5% y/y).

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Nebraska (0.83%), Virginia (1.09%), Indiana (1.37%), Florida (1.37%), Ohio (1.40%), Maine (1.40%) and Texas (1.40%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (1.94%), Wisconsin (1.95%), New York (2.27%), Illinois (2.39%), California (2.54%), Pennsylvania (2.57%) and New Jersey (3.04%).

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) 10/19/13 10/12/13 10/05/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Initial Claims 350 362 373 -5.9 375 409 459
Continuing Claims -- 2,874 2,8882 -11.7 3,318 3,744 4,544
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.2 2.2 2.5
2.6 3.0 3.6
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 3.857 mil. -21.7 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil. 9.850 mil.
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