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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 unemployment insurance (UI) data, including statistics for New Jersey through the week ended November 16.

NJ Highlights:

  • New claims declined, consistent with usual seasonal pattern;
  • Continuing claims rose for only the third week since July;
  • Adjusted for seasonal influences, claims activity continues to improve.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, fell sharply (-10.7%) after rising for three consecutive weeks. This is typical for November. When adjusted for seasonality (chart 2), new filings slipped only slightly (-1.0%) from the week before.

Applications for benefits were down substantially (-74.6%) from last year’s comparable week, when new claims surged in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. 

The seasonally adjusted four-week average (chart 3) -- which adjusts for regularly recurring changes and smoothes weekly fluctuations -- was little changed (-0.2%) from the prior week and remained at the low end of the range that (excluding Superstorm Sandy’s spike) has prevailed since the start of 2012.

Continuing claims (chart 4), that is individuals receiving regular weekly benefits, rose (+6.6%) to the highest level since early September. When adjusted for seasonality (chart 5), however, the number of claimants declined marginally (-1.0%), falling to the fewest beneficiaries since June 2008. 

The seasonally adjusted four-week average (chart 6) is equivalent to mid-July.

Longer term, seasonally adjusted claims have fallen by more than two-fifths (-45.3%) since the June 2009 recessionary peak. But ongoing claims were 5.1% above 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 percent of total covered employment, rose to 3.2% (from 3.0%), second highest among all states.

In sum: Applications for unemployment insurance benefits fell consistent with the usual seasonal pattern. But when seasonal factors are taken into account, applications are below (-4.2%) pre-recession levels.

Continuing claims are at pre-recession levels; but when adjusted for seasonality, the number of claimants exceeds the 2003-2007 average.

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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