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First time job benefit claims, 1/10/13
After dropping in December in what some observers were hoping would be the start of a new trend, first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose for the week ending Jan. 5, according to the department of labor. The numbers are seasonally adjusted. They climbed to 371,000, a 4,000 increase over the 367,000 of the previous week, originally reported as 372,000. With rare exceptions, the claims figures are revised every week. Revisions for 2012 were mostly upward a few thousand.

The four-week running average, which flattens volatility in the weekly figure and is thus seen by experts as a more useful gauge of the actual situation, rose to 365,750. Both the weekly figures and those of the four-week average have been bouncing around the past few weeks because of weather and holiday-related reporting by the states. In such cases, the department of labor estimates the number of new claims, and then adjusts them in coming weeks when actual figures are available.

For most of 2012, first-time claims fell within a range between 360,000 and 390,000. For the comparable week of last year, those claims were, in fact, 390,000. The next week they fell to 364,000. The high point for the year was 451,000 for the week ending Nov. 10, reflecting the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The low point came just a month later, for the week ending Dec. 8, when first-time claims fell to 344,000.

In all programs, including the emergency federal extensions, a total of 5,356,271 Americans were receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending Dec. 22. In the comparable week of 2011, 7,333,322 were receiving benefits. Had it not been for the last minute rescue in the budget negotiations last month, some two million jobless people would have lost their federally funded unemployment benefits at the end of last year. Even so, just over a third of out-of-work Americans are now receiving unemployment benefits because others either have exhausted their benefits or were never eligible for them in the first place.

Jobless claims from Calculated Risk
Forty-two years' worth of weekly first-time unemployment compensation claims.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 08:16 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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