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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Claims For Unemployment Insurance Lowest Since January
by Tom Moeller November 5, 2009

The Labor Department indicated that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell moderately to 512,000 last week from a little-revised 532,000. The latest figure represented material labor market improvement since it was the lowest since the first week of January. Moreover, claims have fallen sharply from the peak reached in March of 674,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims fell to 523,750 and the latest weekly figure was lower than Consensus expectations for 520,000 claims.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week fell 68,000 to their lowest level since late-March. The decline reflects the improved job market but may also be a function of the exhaustion of benefits. Continuing claims provide an indication of workers' ability to find employment. The four-week average of continuing claims fell modestly to 5,886,250 and have fallen 13.0% from their peak. This series dates back to 1966.

Extended benefits for unemployment insurance rose moderately and reversed half of the prior week's decline. Through early-October extended benefits averaged 551,355.

The insured rate of unemployment held steady at 4.4% and matched its lowest since late-March. 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 October 17 were in Puerto Rico (6.4%), Nevada (5.4), Oregon (5.4), California (4.9), Pennsylvania (4.9), Arkansas (4.8), Wisconsin (4.8), Michigan (4.7), Alaska (4.6), North Carolina (4.6), and South Carolina (4.6). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in North Dakota (1.0%), South Dakota (1.1), Virginia (2.0), Wyoming (2.8), Maine (2.5), Texas (2.5), Colorado (3.0), Maryland (3.0), Mississippi (3.6), New York (3.5), Florida (3.7), and Georgia (3.8).

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

Asia Recovering Rapidly, but Faces Challenges, says IMF from the International Monetary Fund can be found here 

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  10/30/09 10/23/09 10/16/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006 
Initial Claims 512 532 531 4.9% 420 321 313
Continuing Claims -- 5,749 5,817 49.0% 3,342 2,552 2,459
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 4.4 4.4 2.8 (10/2008) 2.5 1.9 1.9
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