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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Take Dip in Seesaw Pattern
by Carol Stone  May 29, 2014

Weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to 300,000 in the week ended May 24 from 327,000 the week before, basically reversing that week's increase and extending their recent seesaw pattern; the May 17 number was revised from 326,000 reported initially. The May 24 number is 14.3% below a year ago. Expectations had been for 315,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims declined to 311,500, another low since before the recession.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended May 17 decreased to 2.631 million (-12.1% y/y), also the lowest level since 2007. The four-week moving average fell to 2.655 million and 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 10, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients fell to 2.554 million (-44.2% 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.

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) 05/24/14 05/17/14 05/10/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 300 327 298 -14.3 343 375 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,631 2,648 -12.1 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) -- -- 2.554 mil. -44.2 4.651 mil. 6.049 mil. 7.725 mil.
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