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Economy in Brief


U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline Along With Jobless Rate
by Tom Moeller  May 8, 2014

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 319,000 (-3.9% y/y) in the week ended May 3 from 345,000 in the week ended April 26, revised from 344,000. Expectations had been for 328,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims increased to 324,750. 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 26 declined to 2.685 million (-10.8% y/y). The four-week moving average fell to 2.715 million, the lowest level since December 2007. The insured rate of unemployment fell back to 2.0%, the cycle low. 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 19, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients was roughly stable at 2.833 million (-41.9% y/y), also the cycle low. 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 South Dakota (0.53%), Louisiana (1.02%), Tennessee (1.06%), Indiana (1.30%), North Carolina (1.44), Ohio (1.57%) and Mississippi (1.61%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Massachusetts (2.52%), New York (2.59%), Michigan (2.63%), Illinois (3.03%), California (3.24%), Connecticut (3.41%) and Alaska (4.92%). 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.

Employment Revision Asymmetries from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/03/14 04/26/14 04/19/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 319 345 330 -3.9 343 374 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,685 2,761 -10.8 2,980 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.0 2.1 2.3
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 2.833 -41.9 4.659 mil. 6.047 mil. 7.750 mil.
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