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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fell Slightly
by Tom Moeller August 23, 2007

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell slightly last week, back to the level initially reported for the prior period. Claims for the week ending 8/18 fell to 322,000 from 324,000 during the week ended 8/11. Consensus expectations were for 320,000 claims in the latest week.

A claims level below 400,000 typically has been associated with growth in nonfarm payrolls. During the last ten years there has been a (negative) 78% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

The latest figure is for the survey period for nonfarm payrolls due for release on September 7th. Claims rose 6.3% from the July period. A 7.1% decline in July claims was associated with the below average 92,000 increase in payrolls.

The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 317,750 (0.3% y/y), its highest level since early July.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose 16,000 after a downwardly revised 6,000 increase during the prior week. The continuing claims numbers lag the initial claims figures by one week.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.9%.

The Minimum Wage and the Labor Market from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 08/18/07 08/11/07 Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Initial Claims  322 324 1.6% 313 331 343
Continuing Claims -- 2,572 3.9% 2,545 3.3% 2,459
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