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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Surge
by Tom Moeller  October 18, 2012

Initial unemployment insurance claims spiked to 388,000 in the week ended October 13 versus a revised 342,000, last week reported as 339,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that technical issues account for the recent volatility. Consensus expectations were for 365,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims increased to 365,500. The latest figure covers the week of the BLS October payroll employment survey. Claims rose 3,000 (0.8%) from the September period. During the last ten years the has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls. 

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 3.252M (-12.2% y/y) during the week of October 6. The insured rate of unemployment fell to  2.5% after 6 months at 2.6%. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of September 29, the latest figure available, the grand total of all benefit recipients again fell to a recovery low of 5.002M. The latest was down by one-quarter y/y and was off by more than one-half since the peak in January 2010.

By state, the insured unemployment rate continued to vary greatly with Virginia (1.21%), Indiana (1.47%), Texas (1.52%), Ohio (1.54%), Tennessee (1.68%), Louisiana (1.74%), Florida (1.85%) and Michigan (2.05%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (2.46%), Illinois (2.49%), New York (2.59%), Nevada (2.68%), Connecticut (2.91%), New Jersey (3.11%, California (3.16%) and Pennsylvania (3.04%).

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 survey estimates are in AS1REPNA

Where Would The Federal Funds Rate Be, If It Could Be Negative? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland can be found here.


Unemployment Insurance (000s) 10/13 10/06/12 09/29/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Initial Claims 388 342 369 -3.5 409 459 574
Continuing Claims -- 3,252 3,281 -12.2 3,745 4,544 5,807
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.5 2.6 2.9
3.0 3.6 4.4
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 5.002M -25.4 7.750M 9.850M 9.163M
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