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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Are Lowest Since April
by Tom Moeller   September 29, 2011

The job market may be on the mend.Initial claims for jobless insurance dropped a sharp 37,000 to 391,000,000 last week from 428,000 (revised from 423,000). The latest figure was the lowest since the first week of April and was far lower than Consensus expectations for 420,000 claims, according to the Action Economics survey. The decline lowered the 4-week moving average of claims to 417,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 3.729M in the September 17th week. It has been trending sideways since early this year. The insured unemployment rate held at 3.0%. By state, the rate varied with Virginia (1.4%), Texas (1.8%), Ohio (1.9%), Colorado (2.1%) and Tennessee (2.1%) at the low end of the range. The rates in Connecticut (3.3%), Nevada (3.4%), California (3.5%), New Jersey (3.7%) and Pennsylvania (3.9%) were at the high end.

The grand total of those receiving unemployment insurance, including extended programs run by the states and the federal government, was 6.985M as of September 10, down by one-quarter y/y. Regular extended benefits, with eligibility dependent on conditions in individual states, recovered the prior week's decline with a rise to 534,870 (-40.4% y/y) and those on the special "EUC 2008" programs jumped to 3.037M (-23.4% 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) 9/24/11 9/17/11 9/10/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Initial Claims 391 428 432 -13.1 459 574 418
Continuing Claims -- 3,729 3,741 -16.4 4,544 5,807 3,338
Insured Unemployment Rate(%) -- 3.0 3.0 3.5
3.6 4.4 2.5
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 6.985 -21.8 9.850M 9.163M 3.903M
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