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Economy in Brief


U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline To Nine-Week Low
by Tom Moeller  July 17, 2014

Initial unemployment insurance claims declined unexpectedly to 302,000 in the week ended July 12 from a revised 305,000 in the prior week, earlier reported as 304,000. The latest claims level was the lowest since early-May and compared to expectations for a rise to 310,000 in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 309,000, a new low for the economic expansion.

The latest claims figure covers the survey week for July nonfarm payrolls. Claims fell 12,000 (-3.8%) from the June period. 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 July 5th declined to 2.507 million (-18.6% y/y), a new cycle low. The four-week moving average fell to a seven-year low of 2.559 million. The insured rate of unemployment ticked down to 1.9% and matched its earlier 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 June 28, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients fell to 2.446 million (-45.9% 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 8th week, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Nebraska (0.83%), Virginia (0.99%), South Carolina (1.13%), Florida (1.23%), North Carolina (1.31%) and Texas (1.41%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were New York (2.04%), Illinois (2.40%), California (2.60%), Pennsylvania (2.81%), New Jersey (2.97%), and Alaska (3.42%). 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) 07/12/14 07/05/14 06/28/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 302 305 316 -10.9 343 375 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,507 2,586 -18.6 2,977 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.9 2.0 2.3
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 2.446 mil. -45.9 4.651 mil. 6.049 mil. 7.725 mil.
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