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Economic Snapshot: Unemployment Benefits

Current Economic Data

Q4-’11 Q1-’12 Q2-’12 Q3-’12
Growth Rate—Real GDP 4.1% 2.0% 1.3% 2.7%*
Inflation Rate—Consumer Price Index 1.3% 2.5% 0.8% 2.3%
Civilian Unemployment Rate 8.7% 8.3% 8.2% 8.1%

*Second estimate
SOURCE: GDP, Bureau of Economic Analysis;
Unemployment and consumer price index, Bureau of Labor Statistics;


1. Why does the cost of unemployment benefits vary among the states?

The cost of unemployment insurance claims in individual states varies due to several factors:  the total population, the number of persons who are unemployed, the unemployment rate of the state, and the specific guidelines of the state.

2011 State Unemployment Benefits by State


2. How does the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance compare with the number of continued claims?  What conclusion can be drawn from this analysis?

The number of initial claims has remained relatively stable over the past ten years and the greatest fluctuation is seen in the tan bar, which shows the recent recession.  The number of continued claims has consistenly been much higher than initial claims and has shown more volatility, especially during the past recession (as shown in the graph below).  This indicates a recent trend for unemployed persons to receive continued benefits.

Average Duration of Unemployment

Average Duration of Unemployment