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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Near Cycle Low But Continuing Claims Hold Steady
by Tom Moeller September 24, 2009

Initial claims for jobless insurance continue to suggest labor market improvement. The Labor Department indicated that last week claims fell 21,000 to 530,000. It was the fourth decline in the last five weeks and left claims near their lowest level since early-January. The latest level was down from the March peak of 674,000 and the weekly decline exceeded expectations for a drop to 550,000 claims.

In contrast, an earlier decline in continuing claims for unemployment insurance has slowed. During the latest week continuing claims fell 123,000 after a 158,000 rise during the prior period, though they were down by 11% from the late-June high. Continuing claims provide an indication of workers' ability to find employment. The four-week average of continuing claims fell modestly to 6,182,500. The series dates back to 1966. ยท Extended benefits for unemployment insurance held steady at 438,053 as worker rehiring continued weak. The latest level is off just slightly from the July high.

The insured rate of unemployment dipped slightly to 4.6% and was near the lowest level since mid-April. The rate reached a high of 5.2% during late-June. During the last ten years, there has been a 93% correlation between the level of the insured unemployment rate and the overall rate of unemployment published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending September 5 were in Puerto Rico (6.7 percent), Oregon (5.6), Nevada (5.4), Pennsylvania (5.4), Michigan (5.2), Wisconsin (4.9), California (4.8), New Jersey (4.8), Connecticut (4.7), North Carolina (4.7), and South Carolina (4.7). The lowest rates were in South Dakota (1.1) and North Dakota (1.4), Virginia (2.2), Wyoming (2.6), Texas (2.7), Maine (2.8), Colorado (3.0), Minnesota (3.3), Maryland (3.4), Mississippi (3.8), Florida (4.0), New York (4.1), and Georgia (4.1).

The unemployment insurance claims data is available in Haver's WEEKLY database and the state data is in the REGIONW database.

Financial Crises Tend to Have Long Impact on the Economy from the International Monetary Fund can be found here. 

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  09/19/09 09/12/09 09/05/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006 
Initial Claims 530 551 557 9.3% 420 321 313
Continuing Claims -- 6,138 6,261 71.4% 3,342 2,552 2,459
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 4.6 4.7 2.7 (09/2008) 2.5 1.9 1.9
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