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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline Further
by Tom Moeller  April 7, 2011

Another sign of job market improvement was the indication that initial claims for jobless insurance slipped to 382,000 last week from 392,000, which was revised from 388,000. The latest figure roughly matched Consensus expectations for 385,000. Claims remained near the lowest since May, 2008. The four-week moving average of claims slipped to 389,500. During the last ten years there has been a 77% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell to a new cycle low of 3.723M. The insured unemployment rate remained at 3.0% for the fifth consecutive week. These claimants, however, were 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 7.081M during the week ending March 19 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw a reduced 3.563M beneficiaries (-36.3% y/y) in the March 19th week.

A grand total of all claimants for unemployment insurance includes extended and emergency programs and specialized programs covering recently discharged veterans, federal employees and those in state-run "work share" programs. All together, during the March 5th week, the total number of these recipients rose slightly to 8.524M, off 23.0% y/y. We calculate a broader insured unemployment rate by taking this grand total as a percent of covered employment. The latest rate was 5.6%. It peaked at 9.3% on January 2, 2010.

Two other programs, disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) and trade readjustment allowance (TRA), are reported through a different Labor Department channel. Claimants were the lowest since June in late December. All of these individual program data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance programs are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database, including the seasonal factor series, and they are 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 estimates are in AS1REPNA.

Help For The Unemployed Borrowers: Lessons from the Pennsylvania Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 4/2/11 3/26/11 3/19/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 382 392 394 -19.1 459 574 418
Continuing Claims -- 3,723 3,732 -19.6 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.0 3.0 3.6
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 8.524 -23.0 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance
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