December 24, 2003

Unemployment Claims

An unemployment claims number roughly consistent with a stable employment-to-population ratio:

Jobless Claims Held Steady Last Week (washingtonpost.com): ...First-time applications for state unemployment insurance, an early reading on the resilience of the labor market, fell a mere 1,000 to 353,000 in the week ended Dec. 20 from a revised 354,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said. The figure was in line with Wall Street forecasts for 353,000 new claims...

Posted by DeLong at December 24, 2003 06:26 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Two questions:

1. Prof. DeLong says 354,000 new claims is:

"roughly consistent with a stable employment-to-population ratio".

The cited article seems to differ:

"Claims have been below the 400,000 level economists see as a divide between improving and deteriorating labor markets for 12 consecutive weeks -- the longest stretch since a run that ended in April 2001."

What am I missing?

2. The Reuters article says:

"Initial claims for U.S. jobless benefits held steady last week...suggesting an overall decline in claims over the past three months reflects fewer layoffs rather than a marked pickup in hiring."

Initial claims is a measure of layoffs. How can that figure provide information about whether or not there's a pickup in hiring?

Posted by: David on December 24, 2003 07:11 AM

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400,000 a week is the rough claims number at which employment is stable. 350,000-360,000 a week is the rough claims number at which employment is growing as fast as the labor force and the population.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 24, 2003 07:23 AM

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"Initial claims is a measure of layoffs. How can that figure provide information about whether or not there's a pickup in hiring?"

If hiring picks up, people will be more likely to find new work quickly, so won't bother filing to claim unemployment.

The claim for unemployment isn't automatic when you get laid off.

Posted by: Jon H on December 24, 2003 09:16 AM

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You know I have to post this. The UNadjusted numbers: "The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 423,782 in the week ending Dec. 20, an increase of 11,248 from the previous week."

http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/ui/current.htm

Posted by: Dave Johnson on December 24, 2003 01:30 PM

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