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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Slip
by Tom Moeller  February 20, 2014

Initial claims for unemployment insurance edged down to 336,000 (-8.2% y/y) during the week ended February 15 versus an unrevised 339,000 during the week prior. Expectations had been for 335,000 claims in the Action Economic forecast survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims ticked up to 338,500.

This week's initial claims figure covers the survey week for February nonfarm payrolls and claims were up 7,000 (2.1%) from January. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended February 8 increased to 2.981 million (-5.8% y/y). The four-week moving average slipped to 2.960 million and still was near its highest level since early August. The insured rate of unemployment nudged up to 2.3% from a downwardly revised 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 February 1, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients was little-changed at 3.525 million (-36.8% 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 in 2007.

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 expectations figure is from the Action Economics survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 02/15/14 02/08/14 02/01/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 336 339 331 -8.2 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,981 2,944 -5.9 2.980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.3 2.2 2.4
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 3.525 mil. -36.8 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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