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Economy in Brief

Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Again Raised by Hurricanes
by Tom Moeller September 30, 2004

Initial claims for unemployment insurance surged another 18,000 last week to 369,000 after a 15,000 gain the prior week. Consensus expectations had been for 335,000 claims. Prior years' figures were slightly revised.

The US Labor Department indicated that last week's claims number primarily reflected hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan. The largest increase in initial claims for the week ending Sept. 18 was in Florida (+8,797).

The 4-week moving average of initial claims rose to 343,500 (-14.2% 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 fell 3,000.

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

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 09/25/04 09/18/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Initial Claims 369 351 -7.8% 402 404 406
Continuing Claims -- 2,873 -20.0% 3,531 3,570 3,018
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