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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Weekly Unemployment Claims Increase Very Slightly


First time unemployment jobless claims increased by 4,000 for the week ending January 5th.  The four-week moving average # of claims increased by 6,750.  First time claims are now about what they were in early 2008.
(Even though these numbers are seasonally adjusted, claims numbers around the holidays do tend to be volatile and should only be analyzed in terms of a trend over a period of weeks.) 


For the week ending December 22nd, 5,356,271 people were receiving unemployment benefits under one of the programs that are available (regular state, federal extended unemployment compensation, or a few other smaller programs).  This was a decrease of 51,000  continuing claims since the previous week.

Most of this drop of
51,000 continuing claims was due to a drop of 74,000 continuing claims in the EUC (federal unemployment extensions) program  between December 15th and December 22nd.  

Some of the drop in continuing claims could have been due to confusion related to the expiration of the unemployment extensions.  However, the current unemployment extensions were continued as part of the fiscal cliff deal, so people who have not yet exhausted all of their available unemployment extensions are still eligible to collect under the EUC program.
 

Percent of Unemployed People Receiving Benefits has decreased to about 
45.2%.






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-2012-13) and the past three years (blue- 2009-10green- 2010-11 and black- 2011-12) 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.  You can also see the impact of Hurricane Sandy on claims in November 2012. 

Be aware that:
  1. The graph above shows first time claims, so people who have continued to receive benefits or who have lost unemployment benefits are not 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.


First time unemployment claims decreased by 5,000 over those reported last week.  Last week's initial claims numbers were revised downwards by  9,000.  There have usually been slight upwards revisions  (1,000 to 3,000) in the numbers of initial claims in most of the weeks of the past four months.  (The chart above shows REVISED claims numbers.)

As usual, to put this into perspective, check out the red line on the chart above to see where jobless claims are now, in late 2012/early 2013, compared to the past three years.

From the current report:
In the week ending January 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 371,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. The 4-week moving average was 365,750, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week's revised average of 359,000.
The initial claims as announced last week were 372,000, so the claims from that week were revised downwards by 5,000. 

Current December/January Initial Claims Continue to be the Lowest Since Early 2008.

As a whole, the current numbers of initial claims continue to be the lowest December/January initial claims numbers since 2008.
  

Continuing regular state claims, from people who are continuing to claim unemployment through the initial 20 to 26 week regular unemployment program, decreased 127,000 for the week ending December 29th after increasing by 44,000 the week before.  3,109,000 people filed continuing regular state claims in the week ending December 29th.  As a whole, continuing regular claims continue to decline despite some individual weekly increases.  (There were 3,606,000 continuing claims a year ago.) 

Total number of people receiving unemployment insurance decreased slightly to 45.2% of the officially unemployed for the week ending December 22nd.  

The weekly report also tells us the total number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.  For the week ending December 22nd, 5,356,271 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).  This compares with 11,844,000 people who are unemployed according to the monthly December unemployment situation report which was released last week.  Those numbers, showing that only 45.2% 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.  (This ratio and these two numbers are NOT seasonally adjusted.)

Extended Benefits (EB) Expire



Extended Benefits claims have expired as NO states were eligible for Extended Benefits in the latest report.  

As of the week ending December 22nd, only 1,045 people were still receiving Extended Benefits, as mentioned above.  As recently as late April, 350,579 people were receiving Extended Benefits.  A year ago, 528,184 people were receiving Extended Benefits.

In about seven months, 99.7% of the people who were receiving Extended Benefits are no longer receiving such benefits.  We do not know how many of these 345,000 people found jobs, how many have another source of income in the family, 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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