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Economy in Brief


U.S. Jobless Insurance Claims Surprisingly Edge Lower
by Tom Moeller September 2, 2010

The labor market has yet to show signs of strength, but at least its not showing much sequential deterioration either. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 6,000 last week to 472,000 from an upwardly revised 478,000 in the week prior (originally 473,000). Claims remained the lowest in four weeks when individuals who took the Census began wrapping up their work. The 4-week moving average fell slightly to 485,500, still nearly the highest level since November of last year. The latest weekly decline slightly outpaced Consensus forecasts for a drop to 475,000. During the last ten years there has been a 78% correlation between the level of initial unemployment insurance claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for state-administered programs fell to 4.456M during the week of August 21 while the associated unemployment rate held at 3.5%. These claimants are, however, only about half of the total number of people currently receiving unemployment insurance. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, fell to 894,659 on August 14, the latest available figure. In July, the Congress renewed the special Emergency Unemployment Compensation program referred to as EUC 2008. By August 14th, also the latest available for this program, it had 4.546 million beneficiaries. It will now accept claims through November 30 and will be continuing to pay out benefits until April 30, 2011.

Haver Analytics calculates a grand total of all claimants for unemployment insurance; this series includes extended and emergency programs as well as selective programs for railway employees, recently discharged veterans and federal employees. All together, on August 14th, the total number of recipients was 9.731 million, up 1.1% y/y but down from the early-January high of 11.989 million. These data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance programs are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database and summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states, including the unemployment rates that determine individual state eligibility for the extended benefits programs and specific "tiers" of the emergency program, are in REGIONW, a database of weekly data for states and various regional divisions. Action Economics' consensus forecasts for a collection of major economic indicators are contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 08/28/10 08/21/10 08/14/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 472 478 504 -16.9% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,456 4,479 -27.1 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.5 3.5 4.6(08/09) 4.4 2.5 1.9
Total Continuing Claims* (NSA) -- -- 9.731M 1.1% 9.085M 3.884M 2.584M

* Calculated by Haver Analytics, as the sum of regular state programs, extended benefits, federal employees, veterans, railroad retirement board and "EUC" 2008.

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