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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Claims for Jobless Insurance Ticked Higher
by Tom Moeller October 23, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose 15,000 during last week to 448,000. That offset an 18,000 decline during the week prior which was revised slightly shallower.The Labor Department estimates that another 12,000 claims in the latest week were due to Hurricane Ike in Texas, the same as during the week prior but less than the 17,000 and 45,000 lifts during the two prior periods.

The four-week moving average of initial claims fell slightly to 480,250 (46.5% y/y), just barely off the cycle high.

The latest figures are for the survey week for October non-farm payrolls and initial claims rose 20,000 (4.4%) from the September period. During the last ten years there has been a 76% inverse correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in non-farm payrolls.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 11 were in New York (+5,224), Michigan (+3,383), Florida (+3,007), California (+2,781), and South Carolina (+2,723), while the largest decreases were in Texas (-5,968), Ohio (-4,317), Alabama (-1,534), Louisiana (-828), and Delaware (-827).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of October 11 fell 6,000 after a revised 55,000 increase during the prior week, initially reported at up 40,000. The four-week average of claims rose to this cycle's high of 3,680,000, the highest level since early 2003. Continuing claims provide some indication of workers' ability to find employment and they lag the initial claims figures by one week.

The insured rate of unemployment was stable w/w at 2.8% during the week of October 11, this cycle's high and the highest since mid-2003. The high in that recessionary period was the 3.0% reached in late June 2003.

What Exactly Is a Recession—and Are We in One? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  10/18/08 10/11/08 10/04/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 478  463 481 43.5% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,720 3,726 46.1 2,552 2,459 2,662
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