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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Near 2007 Low
by Tom Moeller  April 17, 2014

The labor market's recovery remained in evidence last week as initial unemployment insurance claims totaled 304,000, up slightly from 302,000 during the week ended April 5, revised from 300,000. Expectations had been for 315,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to a new recovery low of 312,000.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for April nonfarm payrolls and they fell 19,000 (-5.9%) from the March period. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended April 5 declined to 2.739 million (-11.0% y/y), the lowest level since December 2007. The four-week moving average fell to 2.785 million. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.1% for the third week in the last four. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of March 22, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients fell sharply to 3.007 million (-41.6% 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.

By state, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Louisiana (1.00%), Oklahoma (1.10%), Virginia (1.20%), Tennessee (1.30%), Texas (1.40%), Missouri (1.70%) and Ohio (1.90%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Maine (2.90%), Michigan (2.90%), Massachusetts (3.10%), Illinois (3.10%), California (3.20%), New Jersey (3.40%) and Connecticut (3.50%). 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.

Monetary Policy and the Economic Recovery is the title of yesterday's speech by Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen and it can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 04/12/14 04/05/14 03/29/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 304 302 332 -13.9 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,739 2,750 -11.0 2,980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.1 2.1 2.3
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 3.007 mil. -41.6 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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