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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Slip But Remain Near Recent High
by Tom Moeller July 8, 2010

Initial claims for unemployment insurance slipped last week to 454,000 following an upwardly revised increase during the prior week to 475,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims also slipped to 466,000 but still was higher than the low of 450,500 reached one month ago. These figures are down from the recession peak of 651,000 reached in March of 2009. Consensus expectations were for 460,000 claims last week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week fell sharply to 4.413M which was the lowest level since November 2008 and off by one-third from the June '09 peak. The overall decline is a function of the improved job market but also reflects the exhaustion of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. The four-week average of continuing claims slipped to 4.554M, a new cycle low. This series dates back to 1966. 

 Ongoing claims do not reflect those who receive extended benefits. Extended benefits for unemployment insurance rose slightly during the latest week to 429,816. These figures do not include the 4,147,551 benefit recipients (+60.3% y/y) under state administered "EUC" emergency programs, but paid for by the Federal government.

The insured unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, the lowest level since December 2008. It reached a high of 4.9% during May of 2009. During the last ten years, there has been a 96% correlation between the level of the insured unemployment rate and the overall rate of unemployment published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending June 19 were in Puerto Rico (6.7%), Oregon (4.9), Alaska (4.8), Pennsylvania (4.7), Nevada (4.5), California (4.3), Wisconsin (4.2), Connecticut (4.0), North Carolina (3.9), and South Carolina (3.9). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in Virginia (1.8), Wyoming (2.1), Texas (2.2), Tennessee (2.6), Maine (2.7), Maryland (2.9), Georgia (3.0), Florida (3.2), Massachusetts (3.2), New York (3.2) and Ohio (3.5). These data are not seasonally adjusted but the overall insured unemployment rate is.

The unemployment insurance claims data is available in Haver's WEEKLY database and the state data is in the REGIONW database.

New perspectives on health and health care policy from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 07/03/10 06/26/10 06/19/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 454 475 459 -20.5% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,413 4,637 -32.8 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.4 3.6 4.9(6/2009) 4.4 2.5 1.9
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