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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Increase But Trend Sideways
by Tom Moeller   October 14, 2010

The labor market is showing halting improvement. Last week, initial claims for unemployment insurance rose 13,000 to 462,000 after a 7,000 decline (revised from -11,000) during the prior week. Since February, the level of claims has moved erratically sideways. The 4-week moving average rose slightly to 459,000 and the latest figure also was above Consensus forecasts for a decline to 443,000. 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 sharply last week to the lowest level since late-2008. The associated unemployment rate slipped to 3.5% but, as with initial claims, continued its sideways movement. 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 sharply to 0.907M on September 25, the latest available figure. In July, the Congress renewed the special Emergency Unemployment Compensation program referred to as EUC 2008. By September 25, also the latest available for this program, it had a sharply reduced 3.888 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 September 25th, the total number of recipients was 8.652 million, off 4.9% y/y and 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.

Are Wages Rigid Over The Business Cycle? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 10/09/10 10/02/10 09/25/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 462 449 456 -11.3% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,399 4,511 -26.1 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.5 3.6 4.6
4.4 2.5 1.9
Total Continuing Claims* (NSA) -- -- 8.652M -4.9% 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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