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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Claims For Jobless Insurance Highest Since 1982
by Tom Moeller December 11, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance jumped last week. The 58,000 surge to 573,000 brought them to the highest level since November, 1982 when initial filings hit 612,000. This month claims are 8.9% higher than the November average.

Expectations had been for claims last week of 523,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose to this cycle's high of 540,500 (59.1% y/y).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Nov. 29 were in Wisconsin (+16,331), Iowa (+6,240), Arkansas (+1,509), Mississippi (+1,398), and North Dakota (+1,391), while the largest decreases were in California (-20,304), Florida (-8,626), Missouri (-8,347), Michigan (-7,323), and Texas (-7,129).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of November 29 surged by 338,000, also to the highest level since 1982. The four-week average of continuing claims rose to 4,133,500. 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 3.3%. The Commerce Department indicated the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending November 22 were in Puerto Rico (5.0 percent), Oregon (4.5), Michigan (4.3), Nevada (4.1), Idaho (3.9), Alaska (3.8), Pennsylvania (3.7), South Carolina (3.7), New Jersey (3.6), and Wisconsin (3.5).

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  12/06/08 11/29/08 11/22/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 573 515 531 70.0% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 4,429 4,091 67.6% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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