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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Claims For Unemployment Insurance Dipped
by Tom Moeller December 18, 2008

Last week, initial claims for unemployment insurance dipped by an expected 21,000. The decline to 554,000, however, reversed only a third of the prior week's 60,000 increase which was revised up slightly. As a result claims remained up by 85% from their lows of last year.Expectations had been for claims last week of 555,000 and the four-week moving average of initial claims rose again to this cycle's high of 543,750 (58.2% y/y).

The latest figure covers the survey week for December nonfarm payrolls and there was an 11,000 (2.0%) increase from the November period. Over the last ten years there has been an 81% inverse correlation between the level of initial claims and the month-to-month change in employment.

The Labor Department indicated that the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 6 were in North Carolina (+26,596), California (+22,963), Georgia (+20,237), Pennsylvania (+20,090), and Tennessee (+12,170), while the largest decreases were in Wisconsin (-8,593), Iowa (-3,424), North Dakota (-895), Arkansas (-514), and Idaho (-320)

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of December 6 fell 47,000 after an upwardly revised (slightly) 340,000 during the prior week. The latest was the highest level since 1982. The four-week average of continuing claims rose to 4,226,000. 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 w/w at this cycle's high of 3.3%. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending November 29 were in Oregon (5.6 percent), Alaska (5.3), Puerto Rico (5.2), Michigan (5.0), Wisconsin (4.8), Idaho (4.7), South Carolina (4.6), California (4.5), Nevada (4.5), Arkansas (4.4), and Pennsylvania (4.4).

Financial Crisis Casts Shadow Over Commercial Real Estate from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  12/13/08 12/06/08 11/29/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 554 575 515 58.7% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 4,384 4,431 65.6% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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