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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Up Slightly (June 14, 2012)

First time unemployment jobless claims increase by 6,000... and the four-week moving average # of claims increases by 3,500.

Extended Benefits decline by 46% as fewer states are eligible for Extended Benefits.

Percent of Unemployed People Receiving Benefits drops to 

First time unemployment claims increased by 6,000 over those reported last week.  Last week's claims were revised upwards by 3,000.  The four-week moving average increased by 3,500.  As a whole, claims have been stable this spring, but they have tended up over the past six weeks, with slight upwards revisions five of those six weeks.

As usual, to put this into perspective, check out the red line on the chart below to see where jobless claims are now, in spring of 2012, compared to spring of the past three years.

From the current report:

In the week ending June 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 386,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 380,000. The 4-week moving average was 382,000, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 378,500.
The initial claims as announced last week were 377,000, so the claims from that week were revised upwards by 9,000. 

The chart above is one of the BEST charts for understanding and observing changes in the weekly initial claims numbers over time.  This year (red-2012) and the past three years (blue- 2009green- 2010 and black- 2011) are marked in different colors.  You can see that, as a trend, first time claims for unemployment have gone down SIGNIFICANTLY from one year to the next, even though there are variations within the year.  

Be aware that:  1.  These are first time claims, so people who have continued to receive benefits or who are losing any unemployment benefits would not be counted in these numbers.  2.  They are seasonally adjusted, so most variations caused by weather or holidays are already included in these numbers.  3.  As these are weekly numbers, they are more volatile than the monthly numbers.

Current Springtime Initial Claims Lowest Since 2008

As a whole, the current numbers of initial claims continue to be the lowest springtime initial claims numbers since 2008, as can be seen on the chart above.  

Continuing regular state claims, from people who are continuing to claim unemployment through the initial 20 to 26 week regular unemployment program, have been dropping in unadjusted numbers.  However, in the week ending May 26th, they increased slightly to 3,071,217 from 3,056,137.   In adjusted numbers, for the week ending June 2nd, continuing regular state claims decreased 33,000 to 3,278,000 from 3,311,000.  As a whole, however, continuing regular claims continue to decline despite some weekly increases.  (They were 3,714,000 a year ago.) 

Total number of people receiving unemployment insurance decreases to 45.8% of officially unemployed.

The weekly report also tells us the total number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.  For the week ending May 26th, 5,824,739 people are receiving unemployment benefits under one of the programs that are available (regular state, extended benefits, federal extended unemployment compensation, or a few other smaller programs).  This compares with 12,720,000 people who are unemployed according to the monthly May unemployment situation report which was released two weeks ago.  Those numbers, showing that 45.8% of the officially unemployed are receiving benefits, should make it clear that people do NOT need to be receiving unemployment insurance to be counted among the unemployed.

Extended Benefits Expire; 46% Fewer People Receive Extended Benefits

Many states have now "triggered" off of Extended Benefits.  Extended Benefits for those states, including California, Illinois, Florida, and several others, ended the weekend of May 12th.

On the current weekly report, as of the week ending May 19th, 253,605 people were still receiving Extended Benefits.  For the week ending May 26th, this declined to 135,502, a large reduction as 118,193 people stopped receiving Extended Benefits.  This is a reduction of 46%.  I mentioned last week that we could expect that the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits would decline to below 6,000,000 as Extended Benefits expire, which did happen last week.  One month ago, 304,755 people were receiving Extended Benefits.  In a month, over one half of the people on Extended Benefits are no longer receiving such benefits.  We do not know how many of these 170,000 people found jobs or how many have another source of income.  

So, while a decrease in the number of people filing for initial claims is a good thing and indicates that fewer people are being laid off, a decrease in the total number of people getting unemployment insurance may only show that fewer people are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Any questions or confusion, please leave a comment or email me!

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