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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Claims For Jobless Insurance Fell Further
by Tom Moeller January 8, 2009

Last week, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell again. The 24,000 week-to-week decline to 467,000 followed a revised decline of 98,000 during Christmas week. The latter decline was widely attributed to an aberrant seasonal factor, although a problem near this magnitude has not been observed since 2001. Consensus expectations had been for a snapback last week to 540,000. The latest weekly figure may also have been influenced by the difficulty of seasonal adjustment, due to New Year's.

The latest figure was the lowest since the week ending October 11, when initial claims were at 463,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell from the cycle's high to 525,750 (53.4% y/y).

The Labor Department indicated that the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Dec. 27 were in Wisconsin (+16,081), Michigan (+10,524), Kansas (+10,485), Massachusetts (+10,265), and New Jersey (+7,330), while the largest decreases were in Texas (-13,232), California (-9,702), Florida (-8,566), Virginia (-5,943), and South Carolina (-4,678).

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the week of December 27 surged 101,000 following the 138,000 jump during the prior week. The latest was the highest level since 1982. The four-week average of continuing claims rose 45,000 to 4,470,000. 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 remained for the second week at this cycle's high of 3.4%. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending December 20 were in Oregon (6.1 percent), Idaho (5.3), Michigan (5.2), Nevada (5.1), Puerto Rico (5.0), Pennsylvania (4.7), Wisconsin (4.7), South Carolina (4.4), Arkansas (4.3), Indiana (4.2), New Jersey (4.2), and Washington (4.2).

Financial Crisis Casts Shadow Over Commercial Real Estate from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

Agricultural Markets and Food Price Inflation—A conference summary from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  01/03/09 12/27/08 12/20/08 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006 
Initial Claims 467 491 589 41.5% 420 321 313
Continuing Claims -- 4,611 4,510 65.6% 3,342 2,552 2,459
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