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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Rise
by Tom Moeller   December 02, 2010

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased last week to 436,000 from 410,000 during the prior period (revised from 407,000). Despite the gain, the trend level continued downward as the four-week moving average fell to 431,000, the lowest since July 2008. The latest weekly figure was higher than consensus forecasts for 425,000 claims.

Continuing claims for state-administered programs ticked up 53,000 in the November 20 week to 4,270M though they remained near the lowest since late-2008. The associated unemployment rate held steady at 3.4%. 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, rose to 955,928 on November 13, the latest figure available; renewed federal funding may see this number increase again in coming weeks. The other extra program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, referred to as EUC 2008, also had a reduced number of beneficiaries, 3.944M.

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 13, the total number of all program recipients was 8.910M, off 8.3% y/y.  Two other programs, disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) and trade readjustment allowance (TRA), are reported through a different Labor Department channel and lag by two additional weeks; an even more comprehensive total including those equaled 8.861M in the October 30 week, down 4.8% from a year ago. 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) 11/27/10 11/20/10 11/13/10 Y/Y % 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 436 410 441 -8.2 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,270 4,217 -22.6 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.4 3.4 4.2
4.4 2.5 1.9
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 8.910M -8.3% 9.170M 3.931M 2.634M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance

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