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Economy in Brief

Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Dropped Sharply
by Tom Moeller December 16, 2004

Initial unemployment insurance claims dropped a sharp 43,000 to 317,000 and more than reversed all of the gains during the prior two weeks. The latest was the lowest claims level since early July and the prior week was revised up slightly. The Consensus expectation had been for 345,000 claims.

The four week moving average of initial claims fell to 337,750 (-8.2% y/y).

During the last ten years there has been a (negative) 82% correlation between the level of initial claims and the y/y change in payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance dropped 50,000 following a downwardly revised 69,000 rise the prior week.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 2.2%, where it's been since early October.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 12/11/04 12/04/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Initial Claims 317 360 -12.4% 402 404 406
Continuing Claims -- 2,737 -17.8% 3,531 3,570 3,018
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