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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Ease for a Second Week; Supplemental Program Reaches 1.3 Million
by Carol StoneAugust 21, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell last week to 432,000 from 445,000 during the prior week. Consensus expectations had envisioned a slightly smaller decrease. Claims for both last week and the week before were revised downward marginally. The four-week moving average increased to 444,750 (39.3% y/y).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance edged down 17,000 during the latest week, after increasing 77,000 the week before, which also reflects a slight downward revision. The total number of recipients was 3,362,000; this represented 2.5% of covered employment.

This report included data for a second week of the recently enacted "Emergency Unemployment Compensation" program, a federally funded effort targeting people who have exhausted all other unemployment insurance programs. There were 1,284,252 recipients in the week ended August 2, following 713,968 the prior week. Thus, while the regular state programs showed some reductions among newer beneficiaries, this supplemental program has obviously found a reservoir of necessitous individuals who have been unemployed for quite some time. This is about the same magnitude so far as the number of beneficiaries of a similar temporary program initiated in 2002.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  08/16/08 08/09/08 08/02/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims  432  445 457 32.5% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,362 3,379 30.9% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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