Policy Points

13.03.2014 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 2/22/14

For the benefit week ending on February 22, 2014, North Carolinians filed some 5,333 initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 69,600 claims for state-funded continuing benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial claims and fewer continuing claims. These figures come from data released by the US Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 5,562 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 71,672 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, the average number of initial claims was lower, and the average number of continuing claims was lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 11,854, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 108,016.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.87 million versus 3.80 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were some six years ago.

The graph (below right) shows the changes  in unemployment insurance claims measured as a share of covered employment in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.untitled

Both new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, and the four-week averages of new and continuing claims have fallen considerably, though the numbers have been fluctuating in recent weeks. That said, the four-week average of initial claims, when measured as a share of covered employment, is at the lowest level recorded since early 2008. The four-week average of continuing claims also has fallen toward the lowest level recorded since early 2008.

Note that the recent declines in new and continuing claims are not necessarily indicative of an improving labor market. State legislation that took effect on July 1, 2013, made major changes to insurance eligibility criteria, and the more stringent criteria eliminate claims that would have been valid prior to July 1. In time, this development also should reduce the number of continuing claims. Additionally, the legislation reduced the maximum number of weeks  of state-funded insurance for which a claimant is eligible — an action that eventually should lead to a reduction in the number of continuing claims.

To place the numbers in context, consider how the four-week average of initial claims (5,562) was 53.1 percent lower than the figure recorded one year ago (11,854), while the average number of continuing claims was 33.6 percent lower (71,672 versus 108,016). Given the modest rate of job growth that has occurred in North Carolina over the past year, such declines likely are products of changes to unemployment insurance laws rather than improvements in underlying economic conditions.

06.03.2014 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 2/15/14

For the benefit week ending on February 15, 2014, North Carolinians filed some 5,482 initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 71,497 claims for state-funded continuing benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were more initial claims and more continuing claims. These figures come from data released by the US Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 5,651 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 72,516 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, the average number of initial claims was lower, and the average number of continuing claims was lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 12,304, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 109,498.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.87 million versus 3.80 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were six years ago.

The graph (below right) shows the changes  in unemployment insurance claims measured as a share of covered employment in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.untitled

Both new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, and the four-week averages of new and continuing claims have fallen considerably, though the numbers have been fluctuating in recent weeks. That said, the four-week average of initial claims, when measured as a share of covered employment, is at the lowest level recorded since early 2008. The four-week average of continuing claims also has fallen toward the lowest level recorded since early 2008.

Note that the recent declines in new and continuing claims are not necessarily indicative of an improving labor market. State legislation that took effect on July 1, 2013, made major changes to insurance eligibility criteria, and the more stringent criteria eliminate claims that would have been valid prior to July 1. In time, this development also should reduce the number of continuing claims. Additionally, the legislation reduced the maximum number of weeks  of state-funded insurance for which a claimant is eligible — an action that eventually should lead to a reduction in the number of continuing claims.

To place the numbers in context, consider how the four-week average of initial claims (5,651) was 54.1 percent lower than the figure recorded one year ago (12,304), while the average number of continuing claims was 33.8 percent lower (72,516 versus 109,498). Given the modest rate of job growth that has occurred in North Carolina over the past year, such declines likely are products of changes to unemployment insurance laws rather than improvements in underlying economic conditions.

27.02.2014 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 2/8/14

For the benefit week ending on February 8, 2014, North Carolinians filed some 4,394 initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 70,772 claims for state-funded continuing benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial claims and fewer continuing claims. These figures come from data released by the US Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 5,803 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 73,116 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, the average number of initial claims was lower, and the average number of continuing claims was lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 13,137, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 110,778.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.87 million versus 3.80 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were six years ago.

The graph (below right) shows the changes  in unemployment insurance claims measured as a share of covered employment in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.untitled

Both new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, and the four-week averages of new and continuing claims have fallen considerably, though the numbers have been fluctuating in recent weeks. That said, the four-week average of initial claims, when measured as a share of covered employment, is at the lowest level recorded since early 2008. The four-week average of continuing claims also has fallen toward the lowest level recorded since early 2008.

Note that the recent declines in new and continuing claims are not necessarily indicative of an improving labor market. State legislation that took effect on July 1, 2013, made major changes to insurance eligibility criteria, and the more stringent criteria eliminate claims that would have been valid prior to July 1. In time, this development also should reduce the number of continuing claims. Additionally, the legislation reduced the maximum number of weeks  of state-funded insurance for which a claimant is eligible — an action that eventually should lead to a reduction in the number of continuing claims.

To place the numbers in context, consider how the four-week average of initial claims (5,803) was 55.8 percent lower than the figure recorded one year ago (13,137), while the average number of continuing claims was 34 percent lower (73,116 versus 110,778). Given the modest rate of job growth that has occurred in North Carolina over the past year, such declines likely are products of changes to unemployment insurance laws rather than improvements in underlying economic conditions.

18.02.2014 Policy Points No Comments

North Carolina’s Labor Market: A Conversation

Over the President Day’s weekend, John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, Ltd. discussed the state of North Carolina’s labor market on the syndicated radio show “News and Views” hosted by Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch.

Click here to listen to the full 9.5-minute interview over the internet.

18.02.2014 Policy Points No Comments

Unemployment Insurance And The Labor Force

From an op-ed written by John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, Ltd. and Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Social Policy that recently appeared in the pages of The (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer

Some supporters of the [unemployment insurance] insurance cuts have pointed to a separate survey of establishments conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows some uptick in the pace of job growth in the months following the changes. In this survey, the state netted 51,400 payroll jobs between June and December. And North Carolina ended 2013 with 64,500 more jobs (1.6 percent) than it had a year earlier.

On closer examination, these numbers really don’t provide much evidence that the cuts to the insurance system spurred job growth. During 2013, North Carolina gained jobs at an average monthly rate of 0.1 percent, compared with a rate of 0.2 percent during 2012 and no different from the 0.1 percent average monthly rate recorded in both 2010 and 2011. Between June and December 2013, the state netted an average of 5,400 jobs per month, compared with 7,500 jobs per month in 2012. North Carolina’s problem therefore remains the same as it has been for several years: an anemic recovery.

If the point of cutting unemployment insurance compensation was to get people back to work and spark job growth, North Carolina’s policy choice appears, at first glance, to be a failure. If the point was to push people out of the labor force, it appears to be working.

Click here to read the full op-ed on the original web site.