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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Lowest Since February
by Tom Moeller April 24, 2008

Unexpectedly, initial unemployment insurance claims fell 33,000 last week to 342,000. The decline followed a little revised 20,000 increase during the prior week and it dropped claims to the lowest level in two months. 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 four week moving average of initial claims fell to 369,500 (14.0% y/y), its lowest level in a month.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance fell 65,000 after an upwardly revised 46,000 increase during the prior week. 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 fifth week in the last six.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  04/19/08 04/12/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims  342 375 8.2% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 2,934 14.8% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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