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NJ UI: Claims Down; Jobs Up


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 October 11: 

  • Applications for benefits declined;
  • Number of beneficiaries moved downward;
  • Insured Unemployment Rate (IUR) was the lowest since 2007;
  • Covered jobs were the highest since early 2010.

View accompanying chartbook.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, were down 2.3% in the second week of October, in line with the average from the start of August, except for the one-week spike due to gaming industry cutbacks. Filings were 16.4% below 2013’s comparable week.

Adjusted for seasonal factors (chart 2) applications declined 2.5%.

The seasonally adjusted four-week moving average of applications (chart 3) – which adjusts for regularly recurring changes (e.g., the end of school-related summer furloughs) and smoothes weekly fluctuations – moved 1.5% lower.

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, declined 2.5% in the most recent week. 

The count of ongoing claims tends to drift lower in October, a pattern that appears to be repeating this year despite the influx of recipients laid off as a result of the gaming related reductions. 

The weekly count of beneficiaries was the second lowest since November 2007, 10.1% less than last year’s comparable week, and 13.2% below the pre-recession average (Chart 4).

Adjusted for seasonality (chart 5), continuing claims have reversed the casino-closing rise. And taking account of both seasonal patterns and weekly fluctuations (chart 6), the number of beneficiaries is equivalent to May 2008, down about one-half (-47.2%) from the recessionary peak (June 2009), but still 1.7% above the pre-recession average.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, was 2.7% (versus 3.0% a year ago); nevertheless, New Jersey IUR is the second highest among the states.

Covered employment (i.e., employees covered by unemployment insurance) rose in the quarter ended September 30; it was the tenth consecutive quarterly increase and the largest quarter-on-quarter gain since 2006.

Since the recession’s low point (2012 Q-2), New Jersey’s covered jobs has increased 2.4%, but remains 3.6% below the pre-downturn peak (2008 Q-4). The state has recovered 63% of the 139,245 decline in covered employment during the recession, with an average monthly gain of about 2,900 jobs per month.

In sum, despite the layoffs in early September, New Jersey’s unemployment data indicate that employment is increasing, but at a still-subdued pace.

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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