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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Claims For Jobless Insurance Double From Last Year's Lows
by Tom Moeller December 24, 2008

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose sharply last week and the 30,000 increase to 586,000 pushed them to a level nearly double the lows of last year.Expectations had been for stability in claims last week at 551,000. The rise in the trend level of claims is reinforced by the gain in the four-week moving average of initial claims to a cycle high of 558,000, up 61.9% y/y.

The rise in initial claims has been accompanied by a 1.4% decline in nonfarm payrolls since year-end 2007.

The Labor Department indicated that the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 13 were in Oklahoma (+1,590), Connecticut (+1,286), Illinois (+962), Maine (+707), and Utah (+402), while the largest decreases were in North Carolina (-20,526), California (-16,493), Pennsylvania (-12,438), Georgia (-12,053), and South Carolina (-8,432).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of December 13 fell 17,000 after a revised 44,000 decline during the prior week. But again the trend is up sharply. As a result of a huge 340,000 increase at the end of November, continuing claims were still near their highest level since 1982. The four-week average of continuing claims rose to 4,319,750. 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 held for the third consecutive week at this cycle's high of 3.3%.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending December 6 were in Oregon (5.2 percent), Puerto Rico (5.2), Michigan (4.9), Idaho (4.7), Pennsylvania (4.7), Nevada (4.6), Wisconsin (4.3), South Carolina (4.2), California (4.1), Alaska (4.0), Arkansas (4.0), and New Jersey (4.0).

On Economic Conditions and Building a Recovery is the recent speech given by Dennis P. Lockhart, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and it can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  12/20/08 12/13/08 12/06/08 Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Initial Claims 586 556 575 66.0% 322 313 331
Continuing Claims -- 4,370 4,387 61.7% 2,552 2,459 2,662
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