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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Up Slightly (August 11, 2012)

First time unemployment jobless claims increase by 2,000 for week ending August 11th.  Despite this increase, the four-week moving average # of claims decreased  by 5,500.

For the week ending July 28th, 5,680,545 people were 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). 

Percent of Unemployed People Receiving Benefits decreases slightly to 

Extended Benefits claims continue to decline by another 18% as only one state (Idaho) was still eligible for Extended Benefits.  Only 1%  of the number of people who were receiving Extended Benefits a year ago are receiving Extended Benefits this year.

First time unemployment claims increased by slightly by 2,000 over those reported last week.  Last week's claims were revised upwards by 3,000.  The four-week moving average decreased by 5,500.  Initial claims have stayed within a very small range for the past four weeks and have trended down over the past two months.    There have been slight upwards revisions  (2,000 to 3,000) in the numbers of initial claims in twelve of the last thirteen weeks.  (The chart below shows REVISED claims numbers.)

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

From the current report:
In the week ending August 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 366,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 364,000. The 4-week moving average was 363,750, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week's revised average of 369,250.
The initial claims as announced last week were 361,000, so the claims from that week were revised upwards by 3,000. 

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 have lost 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 Summer Initial Claims Continue to be the Lowest Since 2008; Historical Claims Data Below

As a whole, the current numbers of initial claims continue to be the lowest spring-summer initial claims numbers since 2007, as can be seen on the chart above.  

Average initial claims for this time of year for earlier years include:

  • July-Aug 2000:  305,000
  • July-Aug 2001:  395,000
  • July-Aug 2002:  386,500 
  • July-Aug 2003:  401,500
  • July-Aug 2004:  345,000
  • July-Aug 2005:  317,000 
  • July-Aug 2006:  313,000
  • July-Aug 2007:  311,000
  • July-Aug 2008:  428,000

    Late July-Aug 2012 4-week moving average:  363,750 

Continuing regular state claims, from people who are continuing to claim unemployment through the initial 20 to 26 week regular unemployment program, decreased 31,000 for the week ending August 4th after decreasing by 46,000 week before.  3,305,000 people filed continuing regular state claims in the week ending August 4th.  As a whole, continuing regular claims continue to decline despite some individual weekly increases.  (There were 3,709,000 continuing claims a year ago.) 

Total number of people receiving unemployment insurance decreased slightly to 44.9% of officially unemployed for the week ending July 28th.  

The weekly report also tells us the total number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.  For the week ending July 28th, 5,680,545 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 12,794,000 people who are unemployed according to the monthly July unemployment situation report which was released two weeks ago.  Those numbers, showing that only 44.9% 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; 63% Fewer People Receive Extended Benefits

As we've been mentioning, many states have now "triggered" off of Extended Benefits.  The only state eligible for Extended Benefits in late July is Idaho.  All other states have triggered off of Extended Benefits.

As of the week ending July 21st, 6,346 people were still receiving Extended Benefits.  However, for the week ending July 28th, this number declined to 5,223, a reduction of about 18%.  As recently as late April, 350,579 people were receiving Extended Benefits.

In less than three months, 98.5% of the people who were receiving Extended Benefits are no longer receiving such benefits.  We do not know how many of these 345,346 people found jobs or how many have another source of income and how many have nothing. 

To reiterate, 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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