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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Fell
by Tom Moeller May 22, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell a more-than-expected 9,000 last week to 365,000, reversing the prior week's little revised 6,000 rise.

The latest figure is for the week when the Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed May nonfarm payroll employment. Claims rose 20,000 (5.8%) from the April survey period.

The four week moving average of initial claims rose week-to-week to 372,250 (22.1% y/y). Claims averaged 364,000 during April.

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 were unchanged after an upwardly revised increase of 41,000 during the prior week and that increase was revised up. The latest level was the highest since March 2004. It provides some indication of workers' ability to find employment.

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

The insured rate of unemployment held steady at 2.3% for the fourth consecutive week. That was the highest since 2004.

When Motivation Means Opportunity: Training for Real Jobs from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  05/17/08 05/10/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims  365 374 17.4% 321 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,073 22.3% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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