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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Move Higher
by Tom Moeller  May 1, 2014

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to 344,000 last week (3.6% y/y) from an upwardly revised 330,000 in the week ended April 19. Expectations had been for 320,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose modestly to 320,000. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended April 19 gained modestly to 2.771 million (-8.4% y/y). The four-week moving average fell to 2.734 million, a six year low. The insured rate of unemployment ticked up to 2.1% from the lowest level since December 2007. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of April 12, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients fell sharply to 2.822 million (-43.1% 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 Nebraska (0.89%), Louisiana (1.02%), Virginia (1.09%), Tennessee (1.16%), North Carolina (1.46), Mississippi (1.61%) and Ohio (1.65%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (2.41%), Massachusetts (2.68%), Michigan (2.85%), Illinois (2.93%), Connecticut (3.03%), California (3.17%) and New Jersey (3.29%). 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.

The Affordable Care Act and the Labor Market from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 04/26/14 04/19/14 04/12/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 344 330 305 3.6 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,771 2,674 -8.4 2,980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.1 2.0 2.3
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 2.822 mil. -43.1 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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