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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Claims For Jobless Insurance Fell, But Month's Level Still High
by Tom Moeller December 4, 2008

For the second consecutive week, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell. Nevertheless, claims remained near their highest level since the last recession. The 21,000 drop to 509,000 followed a little-revised 13,000 decline during the prior week. Still, claims for all of last month rose 9.8% from the October average.

Expectations had been for claims last week of 535,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to this cycle's high of 524,500 (54.3% y/y).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending November 22 were in California (+10,882), Ohio (+6,658), Michigan (+6,611), Indiana (+6,501), and Missouri (+5,820), while the largest decreases were in Nebraska (-72), Utah (-37), the Virgin Islands (-8), and North Dakota (-4).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of November 22 rose 89,000 after the prior week's revised 18,000 decline. The four-week average of continuing claims rose to a new cycle high of 4,001,750, 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 rose to a new cycle high of 3.1%. The Commerce Department indicated the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending November 15 were in Puerto Rico (5.2 percent), Oregon (4.5), Michigan (4.0), Nevada (4.0), Alaska (3.9), California (3.8), Pennsylvania (3.8), Idaho (3.7), New Jersey (3.7), and South Carolina (3.6).

The latest Beige Book from the Federal Reserve covering regional economic conditions can be found here.

The Community Reinvestment Act and the Recent Mortgage Crisis is yesterday's speech by Fed GovernorRandall S. Kroszner it is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  11/29/08 11/22/08 11/15/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 509 530 543 49.7% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 4,087 3,998 56.5% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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