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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Fell But Still Near Cycle High
by Carol Stone October 16, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 16,000 in the week ended last Saturday to 461,000 from the prior week's 477,000.The four-week moving average barely changed from 482,500 to 483,250 (+50.2% y/y). The Labor Department estimates that 12,000 claims in the latest week were due to Hurricane Ike in Texas, less than the hurricane effects the two weeks before of 17,000 (10/4) and 45,000 (9/27).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the October 4 week rose 40,000 following an upwardly revised 68,000 increase during the prior period. The four-week average of claims rose to 3,632,000, the highest level since July 2003. Continuing claims provide some indication of workers' ability to find employment and they lag the initial claims figures by one week.

Claims under the new "EUC" program, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, enacted during the summer, reached 1,345,375 in the September 27 week, up 278,298 from September 20. These people have exhausted all regular benefits and are granted an additional 13 weeks while they continue to job-hunt.

The insured rate of unemployment edged up to 2.8% in the October 4 week, a cycle high and the highest since exactly the same week in 2003. The high in that recessionary period was 3.0%, reached in late June 2003.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  10/11/08 10/04/08 09/27/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 461  477 499 36.4% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,711 3,671 45.6 2,552 2,459 2,662
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