-

 



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210

CLASSIFICATION

OWS

CORRESPONDENCE SYMBOL

DRR

ISSUE DATE

February 27, 2001

RESCISSIONS

None

EXPIRATION DATE

February 28, 2002

DIRECTIVE

:

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 23-01

 

TO

:

ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES

 

FROM

:

GRACE A. KILBANE
Administrator
Office of Workforce Security

 

SUBJECT

:

Reporting Issues on the ETA 538, Advance Weekly Initial and Continued Claims Report and the ETA 539, Weekly Claims and Extended Benefits Trigger Data Report

 

  1. Purpose. To remind State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) about the need for timeliness in reporting ETA 538 and ETA 539 data during holiday weeks and the need for explanation of significant changes in initial claims reported on the ETA 539.

  2. Reference. Unemployment Insurance (UI) Reports Handbook No. 401, sections I-1, and I-6.

  3. Background. The UI national total of initial claims generated from the ETA 538 and ETA 539 reports is a major economic indicator and is used by many government agencies and the public as an indication of labor market conditions. Having accurate and timely information affects both public financial policy as well as the financial markets.

    During the 2000 winter holiday season, both Christmas and New Year's Day fell on a Monday. Some SESA offices were also closed on Tuesday, the day after the Monday holiday. During these holiday weeks, many problems connected with the collection of the ETA 538 data occurred. They included the following: 1)data were not provided to the Department of Labor (DOL) prompting the need for numerous calls to the States; 2) while regular SESA reporting staff were on vacation, some back-up staff were not very familiar with the reporting process nor did they understand the importance of timely and accurate data; 3) for a number of States, DOL staff were unable to contact anyone in the SESA who could provide the data causing DOL staff to generate estimates for these States; and 4) some States provided estimates that were not carefully considered. Consequently, there were major revisions of data. The initial claims figures for the week of December 23, 2000, that was to be reported on December 26, were originally reported as an adjusted 333,000 seasonally adjusted. The following week this figure was revised to 359,000. The next week it was revised again to 371,000. Finally, it was revised to an unpublished 381,000. This makes a total upward revision of 48,000. Revisions to initial claims figures most often run about 1,000 to 3,000. The original published figure sent false signals to the financial markets and the government officials.

    Because the financial markets and government officials use these data when making decisions, the comments provided by States on the ETA 539 report are extremely helpful in trying to understand the causes that underlie the changes in the data. The initial claims figures are more meaningful if large changes (over 1,000 either up or down) can be explained in terms of which industries were affected and what other causes are responsible for the change. Many SESAs provide good information. But some do not provide any information at all when there are significant changes.

    Timely reporting is also important. One-fifth of the states are submitting the ETA 539 data one day late. The due date is each Thursday. However these States do not get the information to us until Friday mornings. States must arrange to have their internal counts available by Wednesday when they also pick up their Liable/Agent Data Transfer (LADT) counts. The ETA 539 data need to be put into the electronic entry system and transmitted by Wednesday night so that it is available in the National Office by Thursday morning.

  4. Action Required: SESA Administrators are requested to a) ensure that State personnel are aware of the importance of the ETA 538 and ETA 539 data, b) that the reports are submitted timely, and c) that there is explanatory information in the comments section of the ETA 539 when appropriate (increase or decrease of 1,000).