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Economy in Brief

U.S. Claims For Unemployment Insurance Ticked Lower
by Tom Moeller November 26, 2008

The rise in initial claims for jobless insurance took a breather last week. The 14,000 decline to 529,000 was the first material weekly fall in over one month. Yet despite the decline, initial claims for the month remained 10.7% higher than they were in October.

Expectations had been for claims last week of 533,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to this cycle's high of 518,500 (54.2% y/y).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Nov. 15 were in Illinois (+5,285), Michigan (+2,697), Wisconsin (+1,551), Indiana (+1,549), and Missouri (+1,487), while the largest decreases were in California (-9,436), Tennessee (-4,566), North Carolina (-4,512), New Jersey (-3,729), and Florida (-2,686).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of November 8 fell 54,000 and that reversed about half of the prior week's increase. The four-week average of continuing claims nevertheless rose to 3,929,000, this cycle's high and the highest since 1982. 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 remained at this cycle's high of 3.0%. The Commerce Department indicated that the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Nov. 8 were in Puerto Rico (5.0 percent), Oregon (4.2), Michigan (3.8), Nevada (3.8), South Carolina (3.6), New Jersey (3.5), Pennsylvania (3.5), Alaska (3.4), Arkansas (3.4), and California (3.4).

Sectoral Reallocation and Unemployment from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  11/22/08 11/15/08 11/08/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 529 543 516 51.6% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 3,962 4,016 49.0% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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