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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall to Five-Week Low
by Tom Moeller  January 2, 2014

Labor market improvement was in evidence as 2013 came to a close. Initial claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 339,000 during the week ended December 28 from 341,000 in the prior week, revised from 338,000. It was the lowest level since the end of November. Expectations has been for 341,000 claims in the Action Economics survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose, however, to 357,250, the highest level in two months.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended December 21 fell to 2.833 million (-12.0% y/y). The four-week moving average inched up to 2.858 million. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.2% for the third straight week. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of December 14, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients notched up to 4.459 million (-17.6% y/y). This broader measure is not seasonally adjusted. It compares to a cycle peak of 12.060 million in January 2010 and pre-recession figures that averaged 2.596 million in 2007. The number of individuals collecting emergency and extended payments rose to 1.391 million (-32.6% y/y).

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Virginia (1.19%), Oklahoma (1.26%), Florida (1.27%), Tennessee (1.38%), Texas (1.57%), Ohio (1.84%) and Vermont (2.07%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (2.63%), Illinois (2.96%), Connecticut (3.21%), Pennsylvania (3.32%), California (3.36%) and New Jersey (3.79%). These data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment insurance are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database and they are summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states are in REGIONW. The consensus estimates come from the Action Economics survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 12/28/13 12/21/13 12/14/13 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 339 341 380 -8.9 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,833 2,931 -12.0 -- 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.2 2.2 2.5
-- 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 4.459 mil. -17.6 -- 6.049 mil. 7.724 mil.
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