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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Unemployment Insurance Remain Low
by Tom Moeller  May 10, 2012

The job market remains on the road to modest recovery. Initial unemployment insurance claims ticked down last week to 367,000 from 368,000 during the prior week, earlier reported as 365,000. Consensus expectations were for 370,000 filings. The four-week moving average of initial claims also slipped to 379,000. During the last ten years there has been a 72% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance again fell sharply to 3.229M during the week of April 28. The latest was the lowest since July 2008. The insured rate of unemployment slipped to 2.5%, the lowest also since July 2008. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of April 21, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients fell to 6.423M (-19.7% y/y), the lowest level since November.

By state, the insured unemployment rate varied greatly with Virginia (1.3%), Texas (1.5%), Florida (1.8%), Louisiana (1.8%), Tennessee (1.8%), Indiana (1.9%) and Arizona (2.3%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were rates in Michigan (2.9%), New York (2.9%), Massachusetts (3.3%), Connecticut (3.6%), New Jersey (3.6%), California (3.7%), Pennsylvania (3.7%) and Alaska (5.2%).

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 consensus estimates are in AS1REPNA.

Banks and Bank Lending: The State of Play is today's speech by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and it is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/05/12 04/28/12 04/21/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 367 368 392 -14.7 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,229 3,290 -14.9 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.5 2.6 3.0
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 6.423M -19.7 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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