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NJ Unemployment Claims Decline


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

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor published weekly unemployment insurance (UI) statistics, including data for New Jersey through the week ended September 14, 2013.

NJ Highlights:

  • New claims remain well-below pre-recession level;
  • Continuing claims declined as seasonal trend reverses;
  • State’s insured unemployment rate remains highest in nation;
  • Benefit exhaustions were the fewest since mid-2008.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, were down slightly (-0.8%) in the most recent week. The mid-September count was equivalent to that during the two months prior to the school-related summer spike.

In the week ended September 14, applications were 56.5% below the spike’s peak and almost one-fifth (18.8%) less than the weekly average during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

Adjusted for seasonality (charts 2 and 3), the volume of applications was well below both the prior week (-10.7%) and a year ago (-7.7%).

New claims are expected to drift upward over the next two months.

Continuing claims (chart 4), that is individuals receiving regular weekly benefits, were down modestly from both the prior week (-2.4%) and 2012’s comparable week (-2.2%).

Nonetheless, ongoing claims are well above (8.3%) the pre-recession average.

Adjusted for seasonality (charts 5 and 6), the number of claimants has been relatively flat since Sandy’s impacts began to wane. 

The recent pattern of downward drift is typical for this time of the year. Past experience suggests that number of claimants (unadjusted for seasonality) will decline sharply in the second half of September; but then level-off until late November.

Longer term: The seasonally adjusted claims count is two-fifths (41.7%) below the June 2009 recessionary peak, but remains 12.2% above the pre-recession average.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, was 3.4%; in the comparable week of 2012, the IUR was 3.5%. New Jersey continued to have the highest IUR among all states.

The number of exhaustees (chart 7), that is claimants whose regular-benefit eligibility (typically 26 weeks) has run out, was the lowest since the summer of 2008.

In sum: UI applications have returned to the levels that preceded the annual summer surge and should remain well below the pre-recession average into November.

The total number of claimants has declined recently, but remains well above pre-recession levels. When adjusted for seasonality, the number of beneficiaries has declined only modestly since the start of February. 

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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