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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Decline Again
by Tom Moeller  January 9, 2014

Initial claims for unemployment insurance slipped to 330,000 during the week ended January 4 from 345,000 in the prior week, revised from 339,000. It was the lowest level since the last week of November. Expectations had been for 333,000 claims in the Action Economics survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 349,000. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended December 28 nudged up to 2.865 million (-10.0% y/y). The four-week moving average also rose slightly to 2.872 million. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.2% for the fourth 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 21, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients fell to 4.194 million (-21.7.6% 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 declined to 1.287 million (-35.4% y/y).

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (0.80%),Virginia (1.14%), Florida (1.15%), Texas (1.34%), Indiana (1.67%), Alabama (1.73%) and Ohio (1.95%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (2.63%), California (2.78%), Illinois (3.07%), Connecticut (3.22%) New Jersey (3.26%) and Pennsylvania (3.37%). 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) 01/04/14 12/28/13 12/21/13 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 330 345 341 -11.5 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,865 2,815 -10.0 2.980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.2 2.2 2.5
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 4.194 mil. -21.7 -- 6.049 mil. 7.724 mil.
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