According to data released this morning by the United States Department of Labor, for the week ending December 22nd, initial claims for Unemployment Insurance benefits dropped by 12,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 362,000. The previous week’s total was revised upward by 1,000 more new applications than had been previously reported.
The 350,000 figure for the week ending December 22nd represents the lowest weekly claims total since mid 2008. The four week moving average, considered to be a less volatile measure because it helps to smooth out the effect of any one particular week’s data, dropped by 11,250 last week. The four week average of 356,750 is the lowest total for the four week moving average since March of 2008. The drop in the weekly average is seen as a gauge of a the pace of layoffs, and indicates the surge of layoffs since the recession officially ended may have run it’s course. Weekly applications this year have fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000; while an average of 151,000 jobs per month have been added to the economy. Those totals are just enough to slowly begin reducing the unemployment rate. President Barack Obama declared Monday, Christmas Eve, as a holiday for federal workers, meaning that most federal offices were closed on both Monday and Tuesday of this week. Many state offices also observed December 24th as a holiday; therefore some of the data used in the weekly claims report is incomplete. According to a labor department spokesman, data for nineteen states had to be estimated. The weekly claims report usually has data estimates for only one or two states. Of the nineteen states whose data was estimated, fourteen provided their own estimates. The estimates are usually fairly accurate because state officials are used to working with a significant amount of data. Despite the usual accuracy of the estimates, next week’s weekly claims report will likely be revised by more than usual.
There were no other special factors that influenced the data for the week ending December 22nd. Special factors are anything that might have an unusual effect on the data for any particular week. The hurricane known as Superstorm Sandy was one such special factor, the two week strike in 2011 by Verizon workers was another.
Economists are encouraged by the decline in weekly applications, but pointed out that figures can be volatile around the holidays. Unemployment is still high at 7.7 percent, and employers have seemed reluctant to pick up the pace of their hiring. The unemployed are only counted as such if they are actively searching for work, and in the last few weeks many have dropped out of their job search.
The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits rose by 73,000 to a total of 5.48 million for the week ending December 8th, the latest week for which this data is available. That total includes around 2.1 million people who have been unemployed for six months or longer and are receiving extending benefits guaranteed by the federal government. The extended benefits program ends on December 31st, barring an extension granted by the United States Congress. President Obama has requested this extension; however, the Republican congressional leadership has yet to agree to it.
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report for Week Ending December 22, 2012
Weekly Claims Reports Data Charts
Initial Jobless Claims Chart
Seasonally Adjustment Estimates Questions and Answers
How the Government Measures Unemployment
Tier-specific EUC data
Information on the EUC program
Information on the EB program
State Detail Prior Week
UI Claims Series 1967 to Current
Unemployment Rates for States
Career One Stop State Locator
The Arizona Unemployment Insurance Program
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (Special programs in locations declared by the President as disaster areas.)
Legislative and AZUI Contact Information For Arizona Residents and UI Recipients
Veterans Services in Arizona
Disabled Workers Services in Arizona
Mature Workers Services in Arizona
Youth Services in Arizona
Job Seekers Assistance in Arizona
Who Is Counted as Unemployed?
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