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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Weekly Initial Claims Stable (June 21, 2012)

First time unemployment jobless claims decrease by 2,000... but the four-week moving average # of claims increases by 3,500.

Extended Benefits claims decline by another 18% as fewer states are eligible for Extended Benefits.

Percent of Unemployed People Receiving Benefits remains at

First time unemployment claims decreased by 2,000 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 in the last six of seven 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 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 387,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 389,000. The 4-week moving average was 386,250, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 382,750.
The initial claims as announced last week were 386,000, 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 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; Historical Claims Data Below

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.  

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

  • June 2000:  293,000
  • June 2001:  398,000
  • June 2002:  388,000 
  • June 2003:  414,000
  • June 2004:  349,000
  • June 2005:  326,000 
  • June 2006:  305,000
  • June 2007:  315,000
  • June 2008:  377,000

    June 2012 4-week moving average:  386,250 

Continuing regular state claims, from people who are continuing to claim unemployment through the initial 20 to 26 week regular unemployment program, have been very stable in the last two weeks in both adjusted and unadjusted numbers.  However, in the week ending June 2nd, the unadjusted numbers increased slightly to 3,082,965 from 3,056,496.   In adjusted numbers, for the week ending June 2nd, continuing regular state claims remained exactly the same at 3,299,000.  As a whole, however, continuing regular claims continue to decline despite some individual weekly increases.  (They were 3,726,000 a year ago.) 

Total number of people receiving unemployment insurance stays the same at 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 June 2nd, 5,826,164 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 three 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

As we've been mentioning, 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.  There are now only 6 states plus the District of Columbia for which Extended Benefits are still available.  Those states include:  New York, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Idaho, Nevada, and New Jersey.  All other states have triggered off of Extended Benefits.

On the current weekly report, as of the week ending May 26th, 135,502 people were still receiving Extended Benefits.  However, for the week ending June 2nd, this declined to 110,864, a large reduction as 24,638 people stopped receiving Extended Benefits.  This is a reduction of 18%.  I mentioned in the past month 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 two weeks ago.  In late April, 350,579 people were receiving Extended Benefits.  In a little over a month, two/thirds of the people on Extended Benefits are no longer receiving such benefits.  We do not know how many of these 240,000 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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