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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Fall to Eight-Year Low
by Tom Moeller  July 24, 2014

Improvement in the labor market may have picked up steam this month. Initial unemployment insurance claims fell unexpectedly to 284,000 during the week ended July 19 from a revised 303,000 in the prior week, earlier reported as 302,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 302,000, the lowest level since May 2007. The latest figure compared to expectations for 305,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the last ten years there has been a 76% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended July 12 fell to 2.500 million (-16.4% y/y). The four-week moving average fell to an eight-year low of 2.542 million. The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.9% and matched its earlier low. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of July 5, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients increased to 2.612 million (-46.1% y/y), the cycle-low. 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. Year-on-year comparisons are impacted by the expiration of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program at the end of 2013.

By state in the July 5th week, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (0.37%), Virginia (1.11%), South Carolina (1.23%), Florida (1.28%), North Carolina (1.37%) and Tennessee (1.38%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Mississippi (2.22%), Illinois (2.31%), Massachusetts (2.64%), California (2.77%), Pennsylvania (2.90%) and New Jersey (3.37%). 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) 07/19/14 07/12/14 07/05/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 284 303 305 -17.2 343 375 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,500 2,508 -16.4 2,977 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.9 1.9 2.3
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 2.612 mil. -46.1 4.651 mil. 6.049 mil. 7.725 mil.
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