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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Highest Since 2005
by Tom Moeller December 6, 2007

Last week, initial claims for jobless insurance retraced most of the prior period's surge. The 15,000 worker decline to 338,000 followed a little revised increase of 24,000.

The four week moving average of initial claims, a measure which smoothes out most of the series' w/w volatility, rose to 340,250 (4.0% y/y). That was the highest level since 2005.

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

By state, some of the largest increases in the four week average level of claims were in New Jersey, California, & Indiana, each to or near to the highest level since 2003. Other states with large increases recently were Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

These detailed claims figures by state are in Haver's Regional Weekly database.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell 59,000 after the 104,000 surge during the prior week. That gain was revised down only slightly from the initial report.

The continuing claims numbers lag the initial claims figures by one week.

The insured rate of unemployment held at 2.0% after the prior week's increase.

The 'Great Moderation' in Output and Employment Volatility: An Update from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 12/01/07 11/24/07 Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Initial Claims  338 353 4.6% 313 331 343
Continuing Claims -- 2,559 4.6% 2,459 2,662 2,924
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