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Economy in Brief

U.S. Claims For Unemployment Insurance Top 500,000
by Tom Moeller November 13, 2008

The weakening job market pushed initial claims for jobless insurance above 500,000 for the first time since they were briefly there; late during the recession of 2001 and just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At 516,000, claims rose last week from an upwardly revised reading of 484,000 during the prior period. Expectations had been for 479,000 claims. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to this cycle's high of 491,000 (48.0% y/y).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Nov. 1 were in Ohio (+3,885), Michigan (+2,619), Pennsylvania (+2,155), Wisconsin (+2,119), and Arizona (+1,692), while the largest decreases were in California (-3,603), Florida (-2,327), Nevada (-943), South Carolina (-824), and Indiana (-621).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of November 1 rose another 65,000 after the prior week's 111,000 upward spurt. The four-week average of continuing claims rose to 3,794,000, this cycle's high and the highest since 1983. 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 rose to a new cycle high of 2.9%. The Commerce Department indicated that the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending October 25 were in Puerto Rico (5.1 percent), Oregon (3.7), Nevada (3.6), Michigan (3.5), California (3.4), New Jersey (3.3), South Carolina (3.3), Pennsylvania (3.2), Arkansas (3.1), Alaska (3.0), and North Carolina (3.0).

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  11/08/08 11/01/08 10/25/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 516  484 485 52.7% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,897 3,832 50.6% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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