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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Ticked Up
by Tom Moeller May 29, 2008

Last week initial claims for unemployment insurance again ticked up, by 4,000 to 372,000 following the prior week's 6,000 decline. Consensus expectations had been for claims to total 370,000 last week.

The four week moving average of initial claims fell slightly week-to-week to 370,500 (231.5% 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 rose a large 36,000 after a 5,000 decline during the prior week. The latest level was the highest since March 2004. It 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 2.3% for the fifth week. That was the highest since 2004.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  05/24/08 05/17/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims  372 368 22.0% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,104 24.9% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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