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NJ Unemployment Claims Rise


Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor published unemployment insurance (UI) data, including statistics for New Jersey through the week ended November 2. 

NJ Highlights:

  • New claims rose sharply, consistent with usual seasonal pattern;
  • Continuing claims trending gradually upward;
  • New and ongoing claims are both below pre-recession averages.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, rose strongly (+14.6%) for the second consecutive week adhering to the usual pattern for this time of the year. When adjusted for seasonality (chart 2), new filings fell (-5.1%) from the week before.

Applications for benefits were down considerably (-28.4%) from 2012’s comparable week, but roughly the same (+1.2%) as the average of weekly filings during the 5 years (2003-2007) prior to the recession.

The seasonally adjusted four-week average (chart 3) -- which adjusts for regularly recurring changes and smoothes weekly fluctuations -- barely moved for the second straight week (+0.7% most recently) and stayed within the narrow 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, have fluctuated week-on-week since mid-September. Compared to the same period in 2012, the average number of beneficiaries was virtually identical (-0.5%) to a year ago, just before Sandy’s landfall. 

Adjusted for seasonality (chart 5), the number of claimants rose moderately, the second weekly uptick. Since the claims count bottomed in late-May, the underlying trend has been upwardly sloped. During the past five months, the seasonally adjusted four-week average (chart 6) has increased by 4.2%.

Longer term, seasonally adjusted claims were about two-fifths (-39.5%) less than the June 2009 recessionary peak, but 16.3% above the pre-recession average. The downward trend that prevailed from mid-2009 until Sandy made landfall appears to have stalled.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, was 3.0% for the third consecutive week, second highest among all states.

In sum: Applications for unemployment insurance benefits have been gyrating week-on-week, which is typical for this time of the year. When seasonal factors are taken into account, applications are in line with pre-recession levels.

Ongoing claims have see-sawed since mid-September. When adjusted for seasonal patterns, however,  the number of claimants is substantially higher than prior to the 2008-2009 downturn and has drifted upward since late May.

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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