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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Show Marked Drop
by Carol Stone   November 24, 2010

Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped last week to 407,000 from 444,000 in the November 13 week (revised from 439,000).  This was the lowest weekly number since July 19, 2008.  The 4-week moving average, which smoothes out some of the w/w volatility, edged down to 436,000, the lowest level since August 2008. The latest weekly figure was much better than consensus forecasts at about 433,000.

Continuing claims for state-administered programs fell 142,000 in the November 13 week to 4,182,000, their lowest level since November 22, 2008. The associated unemployment rate slipped to 3.3%. 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, dropped to 863,470 on November 6, the latest figure available; renewed federal funding may see this number increase again in following weeks. The other extra program,  Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, referred to as EUC 2008, also had a reduced number of beneficiaries, 3.801 million, down about 160,000 on the week.  It will now accept claims through November 30 and will be continuing to pay out benefits until April 30, 2011.

A grand total of all claimants for unemployment insurance includes extended and emergency programs and specialized programs covering recently discharged veterans, federal employees and people in state-run "workshare" programs, among others. All together, on November 6, the total number of all program recipients was 8.532 million, off 7.3% y/y.  Two other programs, disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) and trade readjustment allowance (TRA), are reported through a different Labor Department channel and have one more week's lag;  an even more comprehensive total including those came to 8.861 million in the October 30 week, down 4.8% from a year ago.  All of these individual program 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.


Unemployment Insurance(000s) 11/20/10 11/13/10 11/06/10 Y/Y % 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 407 444 437 -14.7 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,182 4,324 -24.0 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.3 3.4 4.2
4.4 2.5 1.9
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- -- -7.3% 9.170M 3.931M 2.634M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance

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