Country / Language

Economic Alert: NJ Unemployment Insurance Claims Activity

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 December 10, 2011.

NJ Highlights:

  • Seasonal fluctuations mask underlying improvements;
  • Applications rose sharply as seasonal layoffs accelerate;
  • Continuing claims remain below 2010 level; and Number exhausting benefits declined in November.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1) registered the largest weekly increase (28.9%) since June. This is a typical seasonal surge - as was the case in June - and is expected to persist into January. The spike is starting from a lower base than in any year since 2005. Indeed, the four-week moving average, which smoothes weekly fluctuations, is equivalent to the average of the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

Continuing claims (chart 3), that is individuals receiving regular weekly benefits, declined 7.1% in the week ended December 3, partially reversing the prior week's jump.

Pronounced week-to-week fluctuations are typical at this time of the year, but the prevailing seasonal pattern is for the number of beneficiaries to rise from early December into February.

Beneath the week-to-week gyrations, the total number of beneficiaries in New Jersey has been trending downward for almost two full years.

For the 102nd consecutive week, there was a year-on-year decline in the number of individuals receiving regular benefits. During the week ended November 26, the total number of claimants was 11.9% below 2010's comparable week.

During the most recent week, there were 43.7% fewer claimants than at the March 2009 cyclic peak. Nevertheless, the total number of claimants is about one-tenth (10.5%) above the pre-recession average.

New Jersey's insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of individuals receiving benefits as a percent of total covered employment, slipped to 3.5% (from 3.8% in the prior week). During the comparable week in 2010 the IUR was 4.0%.

Reflecting the gradual improvement in the State's labor market, the number of claimants exhausting their regular benefits (chart 5) fell 6.6% in November and was 23.4% lower than a year ago. But the number of exhaustions remains 18.2% above the pre-recession average, suggesting that long-term unemployment in New Jersey remains elevated.

In sum: New Jersey's weekly unemployment claims activity remains consistent with typical seasonal patterns, while underlying trends in both applications and regular benefits are consistent with an economy that is growing moderately.

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

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

Published date: 12/22/2011

Search Our People

Search Our People

Look ahead. Gain insight. Imagine more. Is your business ready to break through?

View our new TV commercial..

Industry Outlooks

Industry Outlooks

Gain insight into what is ahead for the Commercial Real Estate, Technology and Middle Market Private Equity industries.


Learn about our upcoming events.


Working With Us

Working With Us

What makes CohnReznick different from others in our profession? And what should our clients come to expect when working with us? The answer is The CohnReznick Advantage. Contact us to learn how we can out the CohnReznick Advantage to work for your business.


The value of an organization is determined by the skills and qualities of its leaders. With more than 280 partners serving clients nationwide, CohnReznick is renowned for the diverse experiences, knowledge and backgrounds of its leadership.

Learn More


We align our services in three segments: Accounting and Assurance, Tax, and Advisory. This approach allows us to provide holistic solutions to complex business problems and to seize upon opportunities requiring an integrated approach.

Learn More


Accounting and tax issues different significantly based on an organization's industry. We provide clients with expertise in nearly two dozen industries – we know the opportunities, the obstacles, the competitive landscape.

Learn more


CohnReznick professionals are thought leaders in their industries. Clients benefit from relevant and timely economic, legislative and industry insights that can keep them a step ahead of competition.

Learn More

Global Reach

Our involvement in the Nexia International network of firms enables us assist our clients wherever they do business-providing local expertise and connections wherever they needed. Nexia is comprised of 20,000 professionals operating in over 100 countries.

Learn More