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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Reach 2006 Low
by Tom Moeller  August 7, 2014

Job market improvement continues. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 289,000 (-13.7% y/y) during the week ended August 2 from 303,000 in the prior week, earlier reported as 302,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims, fell to 293,500, the lowest level since February 2006. The latest figure compared to expectations for 301,000 claims in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. 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 26 declined to 2.518 million (-16.1% y/y). The four-week moving average fell to a new low of 2.519 million. The insured rate of unemployment held at 1.9% for the fourth straight week. This particular count covers only "regular" programs and does not include all extended benefit and other specialized jobless insurance programs. In the week of July 19, the latest available, the total of all benefit recipients increased slightly to 2.576 million (-43.0% y/y). 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 July 19th week, the insured rate of unemployment continued to vary greatly with Utah (0.91%), Indiana (1.00%), Virginia (1.03%), New Hampshire (1.15%), Florida (1.33%) and Texas (1.51%) at the low end of the range. At the high end were Maryland (2.24%), Illinois (2.33%), Massachusetts (2.56%), California (2.75%), Connecticut (3.10%) and New Jersey (3.43%). 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) 08/02/14 07/26/14 07/19/14 Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Initial Claims 289 303 279 -13.7 343 375 409
Continuing Claims -- 2,518 2,542 -16.1 2,977 3,319 3,742
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.9 1.9 2.3
2.3 2.6 3.0
Total "All Programs" (NSA) -- -- 2.576 mil. -43.0 4.651 mil. 6.049 mil. 7.725 mil.
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