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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall to the Lowest Level Since November
by Tom Moeller  March 13, 2014

In another sign of labor market improvement, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 315,000 during the week ended March 8 from 324,000 in the prior week, initially reported as 323,000. The latest level was the lowest since late-November. Expectations had been for 330,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 330,500. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended March 1 declined to 2.855 million (-6.6% y/y) from 2.903 million. The four-week moving average slipped to 2.916 million. The insured rate of unemployment remained at 2.2% for a third week. 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 22, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients declined to 3.451 million (-38.6% 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.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Louisiana (1.16%), Florida (1.36%), Tennessee (1.48%), Texas (1.54%), North Carolina (1.80%), Indiana (1.85%) and Ohio (2.23%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Michigan (3.20%), Massachusetts (3.64%), California (3.66%), Illinois (3.72%), Pennsylvania (3.82%), New Jersey (4.32%) and Alaska (5.89%). 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 expectations figure is from the Action Economics survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 03/08/14 03/01/14 02/22/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 315 324 349 -5.70 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,855 2,903 -6.6 2,980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.2 2.2 2.4
(3/13)
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 3.451 mil. -38.6 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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