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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Initial Claims for Jobless Benefits

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Initial Claims for Jobless Benefits

The level of unemployment can be viewed as a combination of stock and flow variables.  The level of unemployment at any given time is a stock variable and is affected by recent layoffs, recent hires, and changes in the labor force, each of which is a flow variable.  Holding the labor force constant, the level of unemployment increases when recent layoffs exceed recent hires. 

Initial claims for state jobless benefits is a statistic produced by the BLS that is often used as a proxy for recent layoffs.  For the week ending May 28 was 427,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week.  The four week moving average of initial claims, which is viewed as a more stable statistic of changes in unemployment, fell 2,750 to 424,000.  Most economists believe that initial claims will have to fall below 400,000 per week for the employment market to improve. 

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