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First-Time Jobless Claims Drop to 10-Week Low

One week after spiking to a two-month high, first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped 24,000 to 334,000 for the week ending July 13--the lowest level in 10 weeks, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/071813.asp reported Thursday.


Economists expected the number of claims to drop to 344,000 from the 360,000 originally reported for the week ending July 6. The number of filings for that week was revised down to 358,000.

While initial claims fell, the number of persons continuing to collect unemployment insurance for the week ending July 6--reported on a one week lag--spiked to a five-month high, increasing 91,000 to 3,114,000. The number of continuing claims for the week ending June 29 was revised up to 3,023,000 from the originally reported 2,977,000.

The report on first-time claims covered the ""reference"" week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its monthly Employment Situation report for July, scheduled to be released August 2. From mid-June to mid-July, the number of first-time claims dropped 21,000, and the four-week moving average of claims fell 2,500.

The four-week moving average of first-time claims for the week ending July 13 was 346,000, down 5,250 from the previous week. The four-week average of continuing claims--also reported on a one-week lag--increased 148,000 to 3,019,250, the highest level since the end of April.

The drop in first-time claims reflected a correction to the sharp jump reported for the week ending July 6, which resulted from the holiday-shortened week and a resumption of the auto industry practice of furloughing workers as auto plants are retooled for the new model years. When the auto industry was slumping, the early summer furloughs had been abandoned, so the practice wasn’t included in seasonal adjustment factors that account for recurring predictable events that affect claims. Even now, the auto industry calendar is less predictable, with new models introduced at various points in the year.

The week-over-week jump in continuing claims was the largest since the beginning of November, when continuing claims increased 193,000 in one week. Large weekly increases in the data series are not unusual because of reporting methodologies, but continuing claims have increased in three of the last four weeks, swelling the number of recipients by a net 148,000.

The week-over-week decline in first time claims continues the steady--though sometimes bumpy--improvement in the labor markets. First-time claims have dropped a net 33,000 this year, even though claims have increased in 12 of the first 28 weeks of the year. In those 12 weeks, the average increase was 18,000, while in the 16 weeks in which first-time filings dropped, the average decline was just under 16,000.

The Labor Department said the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending June 29 was 4,519,501, a decrease of 1,903 from the previous week. There were 5,753,820 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012. Extended Benefits were not available in any state during the week ending June 29.

According to the BLS, 11,777,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in June, with 4,328,000 ""long-term"" unemployed--that is, out of work for at least 27 weeks. Of those individuals counted as unemployed,7.26 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance for the week ending June 29, down about 10,000 from the week earlier.

The Labor Department said states reported 1,636,731 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending June 29, a decrease of 24,152 from the prior week. There were 2,524,363 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC benefits this year were directly threatened by the federal budget sequester. States responded to the sequester by reducing the number of weeks for which benefits were paid or cutting the amount paid.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest decreases in initial claims for the week ending July 6 were in New Jersey (-4,370), California (-4,265), Texas (-3,133), North Carolina (-2,236), and Washington (-1,253), while the largest increases were in Michigan (+17,700), New York (+15,163), Pennsylvania (+4,831), Kentucky (+4,386), and Ohio (+3,771).

Of the 15 states reporting increases of 1,000 or more initial claims for the week ending July 6, nine cited increases in layoffs in the manufacturing sector.

_Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. Radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. Eastern._

About Author: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.

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