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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Move Higher
by Tom Moeller  February 27, 2014

Initial claims for unemployment insurance bounced up to 348,000 during the week ended February 22 from 334,000 in the prior week, initially reported as 336,000. This latest level was the highest since late-January. Expectations had been for 335,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims ticked up to 338,250. So far this month claims averaged 341,000 versus 333,000 in January. During the last ten years there has been a 75% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended February 15 ticked higher to 2.964 million (-4.4% y/y). This latest reading nudged the four-week moving average up to 2.955 million, still near its highest level since early August. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.3%. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of February 8, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients moved lower to 3.486 million (-39.5% 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 (1.21%), Florida (1.37%), Tennessee (1.48%), Texas (1.58%), North Carolina (1.83%), Indiana (1.98%) and Ohio (2.1%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (3.06%), Massachusetts (3.34%), California (3.65%), Wisconsin (3.69%), Illinois (3.76%), Connecticut (3.81%) and Pennsylvania (3.85%). 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) 02/22/14 02/15/14 02/08/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 348 334 340 0.0 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,964 2,956 -4.4 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) -- -- 3.486 mil. -39.5 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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