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Economy in Brief

Hurricanes Lifted Claims for Jobless Insurance
by Tom Moeller September 23, 2004

Initial claims for unemployment insurance jumped 14,000 last week to 350,000 after an upwardly revised 18,000 gain the prior week. Consensus expectations had been for 335,000 claims.

The US Labor Department indicated that last week's claims number primarily reflected hurricanes Charley & Frances. Hurricane Ivan has yet to be reflected in the claims figures.

The latest figure is for the September survey period for nonfarm payrolls and initial claims were 17,000 (5.1%) higher than in the August period.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims was stable at 341,000 (-15.5% y/y). During the last ten years there has been an 81% (negative) correlation between the monthly average of initial claims and the y/y change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose 5,000 following a deepened 9,000 decline the week prior.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 2.3%, where it has hovered since the end of April.

"Labor's Share" from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 09/18/04 09/11/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Initial Claims 350 336 -9.6% 399 403 403
Continuing Claims -- 2,883 -19.2% 3,516 3,564 2974
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