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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Decline Unexpectedly
by Tom Moeller  July 10, 2014

The job market showed signs of improvement to begin the new month. Initial unemployment insurance claims declined to 304,000 (-13.9% y/y) during the week ended July 5 from an unrevised 315,000 in the prior week. The latest claims level was the lowest in six weeks and matched expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 311,500 and roughly matched the cycle low. During the last ten years there has been a 76% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance in the week ended June 28th ticked up to 2.584 million (-14.0% y/y). The four-week moving average fell to 2.571 million, a seven year low. The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.0%. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of June 21, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients edged lower to 2.466 million (-45.5% y/y), 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 June 21st week, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Nebraska (0.84%), Virginia (1.04%), Louisiana (1.13%), Tennessee (1.28%), North Carolina (1.32%) and Texas (1.46%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Illinois (2.35%), California (2.73%), Connecticut (2.82%), New Jersey (2.83%), Pennsylvania (2.87%), and Alaska (3.39%). 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 minutes to the latest FOMC meeting can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 07/05/14 06/28/14 06/21/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 304 315 313 -13.9 343 375 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,584 2,574 -14.0 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) -- -- 2.466 mil. -45.5 4.651 mil. 6.049 mil. 7.725 mil.
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