Unemployment Claims -- They're Back Down Again

unemployment Claims There's good news out of the United States Department of Labor this week. Seasonally-adjusted initial unemployment claims dropped to 404,000 last week, a decrease of 37,000 from the previous week's figure of 441,000. It's the biggest drop since last February, and analysts are claiming this signals that the recovery is a reality, albeit a slow one.

As you may recall, the number of initial claims spiked last week, perhaps due to people who came back to the unemployment lines after the holidays.

But bad news often comes mixed with the good. So while the number of people filing initial unemployment claims may be down, the total number of Americans getting unemployment benefits, including extended benefits under emergency government programs, spiked to 9,607,423 million (from a little over 9.2 million) in the first week of January. And these are just the people getting benefits. The unemployed who are not eligible for benefits are not included in these figures, although their numbers are high.

The largest number of decreases in initial claims occurred in Oregon, down 9,579, followed by Iowa (-3,122), Michigan (-3,101), Wisconsin (-2,029), and Kentucky (-1,006).

These two figures indicate that while not as many people are losing jobs, not as many people are finding them either. A true sign of the recovery would be to get the number of initial claims down below 400,000.

Last week again saw Alaska with the highest insured unemployment rates, at 7.2 percent, although that dropped from 7.5 percent last week. It's followed by Puerto Rico (6.1), Idaho (5.6), Oregon (5.6), Wisconsin (5.6), Pennsylvania (5.4), Montana (5.1), Connecticut (5.0), Rhode Island (4.9), Illinois (4.7), and New Jersey (4.7).

The state with the largest increase in initial claims for the week ending Jan. 8 was New York, up by 24,363. The week before, there were only 8,379 initial claims filed in New York. California had the second highest increase of initial claims, up 17,536, followed by North Carolina (+16,873), Texas (+13,828), and Illinois (+11,211).

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