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NJ Unemployment Claims Up on Seasonal Factors


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 9. 

NJ Highlights:

  • New claims up sharply again, consistent with usual seasonal pattern;
  • Continuing claims remain on gradual downward path;
  • Adjusted for seasonal influences, claims activity continues to improve.

View accompanying charts.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, rose sharply (+20.5%) for the third consecutive week. This is typical for this time of the year. When adjusted for seasonality (chart 2), new filings fell (-3.4%) from the week before.

Applications for benefits were down substantially (-71.5%) 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 -- retreated a bit (-3.2%) but 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, declined for the second straight week. 

Adjusted for seasonality (chart 5), the number of claimants fell below 125,000 for only the second time since mid-2008. This interrupted the upward drift that had been prevalent over the past five months. The seasonally adjusted four-week average (chart 6) has returned to where it stood in late July.

Longer term, seasonally adjusted claims were more than two-fifths (-44.8%) less than the June 2009 recessionary peak, but 6.2% above the pre-recession average. 

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

In sum: Applications for unemployment insurance benefits are adhering to the pattern that is typical for this time of the year. When seasonal factors are taken into account, applications are somewhat below (-3.2%) pre-recession levels.

Ongoing claims have been below the pre-recession average since mid-September; when adjusted for seasonality, however, activity is still above 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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