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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Up
by Tom Moeller April 17, 2008

Initial unemployment insurance claims last week rose 17,000 to 372,000. During the prior week, claims fell 51,000 and that was slightly less of a decline than reported initially. Consensus expectations had been for claims to total 375,000 last 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) 76% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

The latest claims figure covers the week that April nonfarm payrolls were surveyed by the Labor Department and claims fell 3,000 (-0.8%) from the March survey period.

The four week moving average of initial claims held roughly steady at 376,000 (17.0% y/y), still near its highest level since 2005.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose another 18,000 and the previous week's increase was revised up to 18,400. Insured unemployment was at its highest level since mid 2004. 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 held steady at 2.2% for the fourth week in the last five.

Yesterday's Senate testimony by Fed GovernorFrederic S. Mishkin, Small Business Lending, is available here.

The Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book covering regional economic conditions can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  04/12/08 04/05/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims  372 355 11.7% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 2,984 18.4% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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