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NJ Unemployment Claims Lowest Since Y2K


The most recent U.S. Department of Labor unemployment insurance (UI) data for New Jersey shows that through the week ended April 18:

  • Applications for benefits, adjusted for seasonality, were near a 15-year low;
  • Number of beneficiaries has declined substantially from earlier this year; and
  • Covered employment is at a five-year high.

View accompanying chartbook.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, fell sharply (-41.2%) from the prior week, as is usual for this time of the year. Filings were somewhat higher (2.7%) than in 2014’s comparable week.

Adjusted for seasonal factors (chart 2), applications fell by almost one-half (-47.4%) from the prior week – two-fifths (40.1%) in comparison to last year’s comparable week – reaching a level last seen in mid-October 2000, almost a decade-and-a-half ago.

The seasonally adjusted four-week moving average of applications (chart 3) – which adjusts for both regularly recurring changes and weekly fluctuations – declined by 4.6%.

Total filings in the week ended October 11 were 3.6% below the average during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

Continuing claims (chart 4), that is individuals already receiving regular benefits, rose modestly (+1.9%) in the most recent week, but were 3.7% less than a year ago.

Over the past four weeks, the average number of claimants has been the lowest since the first week of January.

The count of ongoing claims tends to drift lower in the second quarter of the year and, taking account of the low level of applications, the number of beneficiaries is expected to repeat that pattern over the next several weeks.

Adjusted for seasonality (chart 5), continuing claims rose (+8.4%) in the week that ended April 11.

Taking account of seasonal patterns and weekly fluctuations (chart 6), the number of beneficiaries was flat (-0.1%) over the week and down almost one-half (-47.0%) from the recessionary peak (June 2009).

In the most recent week, the number of claimants was only 1.4% above pre-recession average recorded during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, was 3.1% (versus 3.5% a year ago), second highest among all states.

Covered employment (i.e., employees covered by unemployment insurance) rose for the 12th consecutive quarter in the three months through March.

Since the recession’s low point (2012 Q-1), New Jersey’s covered employment has increased 2.9%, but remains 3.2% below the pre-downturn peak (2008 Q-4). The state has recovered 46.8% of the decline (-226,976 jobs) in covered employment during the recession.

The statements, opinions, and conclusions contained herein are based solely upon the author’s own studies, research, and personal experience. Neither CohnReznick nor the author make any representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. CohnReznick and the author expressly disclaim any liability for any loss or damage which may be incurred, of any kind whatsoever, as a result of or arising from the use of any of the information contained herein or reliance on the accuracy or completeness of it.

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