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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Exceed Expectations
by Tom Moeller  February 13, 2014

Initial claims for unemployment insurance notched up to 339,000 (-2.6% y/y) during the week ended February 8 versus an unrevised 331,000 during the week prior. Expectations had been for  330,000 claims in the Action Economic forecast survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims ticked up to 336,750. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended February 1 increased to 2.953 million (-6.0% y/y). The four-week moving average slipped to 2.970 million, but still was near its highest level since early August. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.3% for the fifth 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 January 25, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients notched up to 3.524 million (-40.5% 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.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Louisiana (1.24%), Tennessee (1.43%),  Florida (1.44%), Texas (1.64%), North Carolina (1.89%), Indiana (2.14%) and Ohio (2.61%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (3.10%), California (3.45%), Massachusetts (3.45%), Wisconsin (3.65%), Illinois (3.78%), Pennsylvania (3.84%) and Connecticut (4.01%). 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 expectations figure is from the Action Economics survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 02/08/14 02/01/14 01/25/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 339 331 348 -2.6 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,953 2,971 -6.0 2.980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.3 2.3 2.4
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 3.524 mil. -40.5 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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