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NJ Unemployment Claims Data Mixed


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

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor published unemployment insurance (UI) data, including statistics for New Jersey through the week ended March 15. 

NJ Highlights: 

  • Applications at lowest level since August;
  • Continuing claims steady, but well above pre-recession average;
  • Insured unemployment rate second highest nationally.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, fell 10.6% in the most recent week, dropping to the lowest level since last August. 

New filings were down by almost two-thirds (-62.6%) compared to the end-of-year seasonal spike; and, were almost one-fifth (-19.7%) below the average weekly total during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession. 

When adjusted for seasonal factors (chart 2), new filings were 7.9% less than the prior week’s total and slightly less than one-fifth (-18.4%) below the post-holiday peak. 

The seasonally adjusted four-week moving average (chart 3) -- which adjusts for regularly recurring changes and smoothes weekly fluctuations -- has been fairly flat since mid-January and, most recently, was 4.3% below the pre-recession average.

Continuing claims (chart 4), that is individuals receiving regular benefits, rose 3.7% in the week ended March 8. Due to administrative changes in the reporting of on-going claims, week-on-week fluctuations are to be expected. However, the four-week moving average has been steady since mid-January at about one-third (31.7% most recently) above the pre-recession norm.

Adjusted for seasonality (charts 5 and 6), the number of beneficiaries has been relatively flat since the start of the year. 

The seasonally adjusted total is 15.9% above the pre-recession average, but 39.8% below the June 2009 recessionary peak.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, was unchanged at 4.1% in the most recent week. New Jersey’s IUR was second highest among all states.

In sum: Applications for unemployment benefits continued to decline, consistent with seasonal patterns when employment is stable or growing modestly.  The number of continuing claims remains elevated, however.

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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