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Economy in Brief


U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Retrace Earlier Decline
by Tom Moeller  May 22, 2014

Jobless insurance claims increased week-to-week but continued to trend lower. Initial unemployment insurance claims rebounded to 326,000 (-5.2% y/y) during the week ended May 17 from 298,000 during the week prior, revised from 297,000. Expectations had been for 313,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims dipped to 322,500, the lowest since January 2007.

The latest initial claims figure covers the survey week for May nonfarm payroll employment, rising 21,000 (6.9%) from the April period. 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 May 10 decreased to 2.653 million (-9.9% y/y), the lowest level since 2007. The four-week moving average fell to 2.689 million, the lowest level since December 2007. The insured rate of unemployment remained at 2.0%, its 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 May 3, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients fell to 2.620 million (-44.8% 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. Year-on-year comparisons are impacted by the expiration of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program at the end of 2013.

By state in the May 3rd week, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with South Dakota (0.46%), Nebraska (0.81%), South Carolina (0.98%), Louisiana (1.02%), Utah (1.05%) and Texas (1.37%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Illinois (2.66%), Pennsylvania (2.93%), Connecticut (2.99%), California (3.14%), New Jersey (3.27%) and Alaska (4.65%). 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) 05/17/14 05/10/14 05/03/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 326 298 321 -5.2 343 375 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,653 2,666 -9.9 2,977 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 2.0 2.0 2.3
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 2.620 mil. -44.8 4.651 mil. 6.049 mil. 7.725 mil.
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