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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Weekly Unemployment Claims Decrease

First time unemployment jobless claims decreased by 12,000 for the week ending December 22nd.  The four-week moving average # of claims decreased by a significant 11,250 as the claims increase from Hurricane Sandy receded.  We have now returned to first time claims numbers as low as those in late 2007 or early 2008.

For the week ending December 8th, 5,475,708 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 is an increase of about  73,000 continuing claims since the previous week. 

Percent of Unemployed People Receiving Benefits has increased to about

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.  You can also see the impact of Hurricane Sandy on claims in the last few weeks. 

Be aware that:
  1. These are 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 12,000 over those reported last week.  Last week's initial claims numbers were revised upwards by 1,000.  The four-week moving average decreased by 11,250.    There have 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, compared to the last months of the past three years.

From the current report:
In the week ending December 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 350,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 362,000. The 4-week moving average was 356,750, a decrease of 11,250 from the previous week's revised average of 368,000.
The initial claims as announced last week were 361,000, so the claims from that week were revised upwards by 1,000. 

Current December Initial Claims Continue to be the Lowest Since Late 2007.

As a whole, the current numbers of initial claims continue to be the lowest December initial claims numbers since 2007.  
Continuing regular state claims, from people who are continuing to claim unemployment through the initial 20 to 26 week regular unemployment program, decreased 32,000 for the week ending December 15th after increasing by 25,000 the week before.  3,206,000 people filed continuing regular state claims in the week ending December 15th.  As a whole, continuing regular claims continue to decline despite some individual weekly increases.  (There were 3,595,000 continuing claims a year ago.) 

Total number of people receiving unemployment insurance increased slightly to 48% of the officially unemployed for the week ending December 8th.  

The weekly report also tells us the total number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.  For the week ending December 8th, 5,475,708 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 11,404,000 people who are unemployed according to the monthly November unemployment situation report which was released three weeks ago.  Those numbers, showing that only 48% 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 are expiring as only New York was eligible for Extended Benefits in the latest report.  Only 7.8%  of the number of people who were receiving Extended Benefits a year ago were receiving Extended Benefits for the week ending December 8th.  

New York has now triggered off of Extended Benefits, which means that all states have now "triggered" off of Extended Benefits.

As of the week ending December 8th, only 44,610 people were still receiving Extended Benefits.  As recently as late April, 350,579 people were receiving Extended Benefits.  A year ago, 571,848 people were receiving Extended Benefits.

In about seven months, 87% of the people who were receiving Extended Benefits are no longer receiving such benefits.  We do not know how many of these 306,000 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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