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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Are Range-bound Near 400,000
by Tom Moeller   August 18, 2011

Initial unemployment insurance claims have been waffling between 375,000 and 432,000 since February. Last week, they ticked up w/w to 408,000 from an upwardly revised 399,000 during the prior period. The figure surpassed expectations for 400,000. The four-week moving average of claims slipped to 402,500, its lowest level since mid-April.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for August nonfarm payrolls and claims fell 14,000 (-3.3%) from the July period. During the last ten years there has been a 76% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance ticked up to 3.702M in the August 6th week, still the lowest since mid-April. The insured unemployment rate was stable at 2.9%. 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, fell to 527,490 (-36.1% y/y) during the week ending July 30th (the latest figure available). According to the Labor Department, the extended benefits were available in 32 states and the District of Columbia. A companion program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, referred to as EUC 2008, saw 3.131M beneficiaries that week, also down by one-third y/y.

A grand total of all claimants for unemployment insurance includes the 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 July 30th week, these recipients totaled 7.336M, which is down 26.4% y/y.

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) 8/13/11 8/06/11 7/30/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 408 399 402 -16.4 459 574 418
Continuing Claims -- 3,702 3,695 -17.5 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 2.9 2.9 3.5
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 7.336M -26.4 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M
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