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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Stable But High
by Tom Moeller October 30, 2008

Initial claims for jobless insurance were stable last week at 479,000, near the high for this cycle. The figure was about as expected. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell slightly to 475,500 (44.2% y/y), still just off the cycle high.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 18 were in Tennessee (+1,956), Oregon (+1,802), Indiana (+1,297), Virginia (+898), and Florida (+543), while the largest decreases were in New York (-6,080), Michigan (-5,894), Illinois (-3,795), Ohio (-2,923), and Kentucky (-2,494).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of October 18 fell 12,000 after a revised 7,000 increase during the prior week, initially reported as a slight decline. The four-week average of continuing claims rose further to this cycle's high of 3,709,500, 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 for the third week at 2.8%. That was this cycle's high and the highest since mid-2003. The high in that recessionary period was 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)  10/25/08 10/18/08 10/11/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 478  479 463 44.3% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,715 3,727 43.0 2,552 2,459 2,662
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