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NJ Unemployment Claims Data Improve


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 April 12: 

  • Applications rose, but remain below the pre-recession average;
  • Adjusted for seasonality, average weekly filings are at a 13-year low;
  • Continuing claims remain on a downward trend;
  • Rate of benefit exhaustions is at a six-year low; and,
  • Covered employment is 4.2% below the pre-recession peak.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, rose 5.4%, the second weekly increase after new claims had fallen to the lowest level since May 2008.  An early-April uptick is usual.

New filings were down by almost two-thirds (-62.0%) compared to December’s post-holiday spike and were about one-fifth (-18.5%) below the weekly average during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession. 

When adjusted for seasonal factors (chart 2), new filings rose 9.5% from the prior week’s total, which was the lowest since the start of April 2006, almost two years before the recession began. 

The seasonally adjusted four-week moving average (chart 3) – which adjusts for regularly recurring changes and smoothes weekly fluctuations – is the lowest it has been in more than 13 years (November 2000).  

Continuing claims (chart 4), that is individuals receiving regular benefits, rose 5.9% in the week ended April 5, after having declined sharply (-13.6%) in the prior week. The weekly volatility is an administrative artifact. The four-week moving average, which smoothes the weekly volatility, has declined for five consecutive weeks; however, it is still well above (14.1%) the pre-recession norm.

Adjusted for seasonality and weekly fluctuations (chart 6), the number of beneficiaries has been drifting downward since the end of January.

The seasonally adjusted total of ongoing claims is 10.6% above the pre-recession average, but 42.5% below the June 2009 recessionary peak.

There was an increase in the number of claimants whose regular weekly benefit period (typically 26 weeks) expired, but the benefit exhaustion rate (based on when the exhaustees initially qualified) fell to a six-year low.

Covered employment (i.e., jobs subject to the State’s unemployment insurance programs) has increased for eight consecutive quarters and is equivalent to its level in mid-2010. But despite that sustained growth, covered employment remains 165,000 (4.2%) below its peak at the end of 2008.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, was unchanged at 3.6% in the most recent week. 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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