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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Down, Revisions Up
by Tom Moeller February 21, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 9,000 to 349,000 last week, but the prior week's level was revised up sharply. For February, claims so far are up 28,000, or 8.6%, from the January average. The latest weekly level remained near the highest since October of 2005.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, a measure which smoothes out most of the series' w/w volatility, rose again to 360,500 (+9.2% y/y), the highest level since Summer of 2005.

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) 76% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose 48,000 and reversed a 48,000 decline during the prior week. That decline was much deeper than reported initially. Insured unemployment stood at its highest level since Summer 2005. The figure provides some indication of workers' ability to find employment.

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

The insured rate of unemployment remained at 2.1% for the third consecutive week.

Minutes to the January meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee can be found here.

Recent Trends in Economic Volatility: Conference Summary from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  02/16/08 02/09/08 Y/Y 2006  2005 2004
Initial Claims  349 358 4.8% 313 331 343
Continuing Claims -- 2,784 11.5% 2,459 2,662 2,924
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