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Economic Alert: NJ Unemployment Claims Rise From Seven-Year Low


By Patrick J. O'Keefe, Director of Economic Research, J.H. Cohn Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor published weekly unemployment insurance statistics, including data for New Jersey through the week ended May 5, 2012.

NJ Highlights:

  • New claims rose from prior week's lowest April level since 2005;
  • Applications remain below pre-recession average;
  • Continuing claims moved downward in the most recent week.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, rebounded 12.8% after having fallen by almost one-half (-44.8%) in the prior two weeks and reaching the lowest April level since 2005.

Despite the week-on-week increase, initial claims are 9.2% below the weekly average during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

The most recent week's uptick is consistent with a pattern of fluctuation that typically persists from early May to mid-June, when school closings begin.

Continuing claims (chart 3), that is individuals receiving regular weekly benefits, declined again (-2.1%) in the last week of April. In the prior week, claims posted the largest week-on-week decline (-12,871 claimants) since the last week of March 1996.

In the most recent week, the continuing claims count was 44.0% below the March 2009 recessionary peak, but 9.9% higher than the pre-recession weekly average.

New Jersey's insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, fell to 3.5%, down slightly from the prior week's 3.6%. The IUR was 3.9% in the comparable week of 2011.

In sum: Applications for unemployment insurance benefits rose from the lowest April reading since 2005, but remain well below the pre-recession average. The number of individuals receiving regular benefits drifted lower, after having declined in the prior week by the largest absolute amount in 16 years and largest proportion in more than six years.

Patrick J. O'Keefe is director of economic research at J.H. Cohn. He can be reached at pokeefe@jhcohn.com or 1-877-704-3500.

Visit the "Insight on the Economy" resource page and sign up to receive Economic Notes.

Published date: 5/17/2012

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