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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Unchanged
by Tom Moeller March 13, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance were unchanged last week at 353,000 from the prior week's level which was revised up slightly. The figure about matched Consensus expectations and it left the early March level of claims slightly below the February average.

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.

The four week moving average of initial was about unchanged w/w at 358,500 (9.4% y/y).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance moved higher again. A 7,000 increase during the latest week followed a 26,000 gain during the prior period which was unrevised. 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 sixth consecutive week.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  03/07/08 02/29/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims  353 353 12.4% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 2,835 9.8% 2,551 2,459 2,662
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