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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Retrace Earlier Gain
by Tom Moeller  May 12, 2011

Initial claims for jobless insurance fell last week to 434,000 after the jump to 478,000 during the prior period, initially reported as 474,000. The latest figure roughly matched Consensus expectations for 430,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims rose to 436,750. 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 held roughly steady at 3.756M. The insured unemployment rate remained at 3.0%. 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 689,009 during the week ending April 23 (the latest figure available). A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw a reduced 3.416M beneficiaries (-34.2% y/y) in the April 23rd 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 April 23rd week, these recipients fell to 7.984M, off 22.1% y/y. We calculate a broader insured unemployment rate by taking this grand total as a percent of covered employment. The latest rate held at 5.2%. 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.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 5/7/11 4/30/11 4/23/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 434 478 431 -4.6 459 574 418
Continuing Claims -- 3,756 3,751 -19.5 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.0 3.0 3.7
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA)* -- -- 7.984 -22.1 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M

*Excludes disaster unemployment assistance and trade readjustment allowance
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