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NJ Unemployment Claims Near Multi-Year Lows


by Patrick J. O'Keefe, Director of Economic Research

The most recent U.S. Department of Labor unemployment insurance (UI) data for New Jersey shows that through the week ended May 16: 

  • Applications rose for the second week since hitting a one-year low;
  • Number of beneficiaries declined to the lowest count since October 2007; and
  • Insured unemployment rate fell to the lowest since November 2007.

View the accompanying chartbook.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, rose to 7,555 (+3.0%); up for the second week after having reached the lowest level in a year. Despite the uptick, applications in the week ended May 16 were 11.4% less than 2014’s comparable week.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, applications (chart 2) rose 4.8% in the most recent week. It was the fourth consecutive increase since mid-April when that measure was at the lowest level since October 2000.

For the four weeks ending May 16, the seasonally adjusted average of new filings (chart 3) – which adjusts for regularly recurring changes and weekly fluctuations – rose 5.2% from the prior week, which was the lowest level since November 2000.

Total filings in the most recent week were 7.3% below the average for the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

Continuing claims (chart 4), that is individuals receiving regular benefits, have fallen in 15 of the 18 weeks since the seasonal peak in the first week of January.

The count of claimants (97,279) declined 3.5% from the prior week. It remained below 100,000 beneficiaries for only the second time since 2007.

Relative to the comparable week of 2014, the number of beneficiaries was down 15.4%.

Adjusted for seasonality, continuing claims (chart 5) rose modestly (+0.8%) from the prior week’s count, which was the lowest since November 2006.

Taking account of seasonal patterns and weekly fluctuations (chart 6), the number of beneficiaries (most recently 105,299) is down by more than one-half (-53.0%) from the recessionary peak (June 2009).

The number of claimants is currently 10.3% below the average during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percentage of total covered employment, was 2.5%, the lowest since November 2007. Despite that low mark, New Jersey’s IUR was second highest among all states.

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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