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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Are Little-Changed
by Tom Moeller  January 23, 2014

Initial claims for unemployment insurance of 326,000 during the week ended January 18 held near the prior week's level of 325,000, revised from 326,000. It was the lowest level since late-November. Expectations had been for an uptick to 330,000 claims in the Action Economics survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 331,500.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for January nonfarm payrolls and there was a 12,250 decline (-3.6%) from the December period. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended January 11 rose to 3.056 million (-3.5% y/y). The four-week moving average increased to 2.939 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 January 4, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients pulled back to 3.706 million (-34.5% y/y) due to the end of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program of 2008. 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 in 2007.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (1.02%), Florida (1.31%), Virginia (1.44%), Texas (1.52%), Indiana (2.10%), Alabama (2.25%) and Ohio (2.87%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (3.29%), California (3.51%), Massachusetts (3.52%), Illinois (3.54%), Connecticut (4.38%) New Jersey (4.39%) and Pennsylvania (4.53). These data are not seasonally adjusted.

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) 01/18/14 01/11/14 01/04/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 326 325 330 -5.0 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 3,056 3,022 -3.5 2.980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.3 2.3 2.5
(1/13)
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 3.706 -34.5 mil. 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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