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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Fall Again To 2009 Low
by Tom Moeller November 12, 2009

U.S. job market continues to improve. That's the message from the Labor Department's report of another decline last week in initial claims for jobless insurance. They're down to 502,000 from 514,000 during the prior week which was revised up from 512,000. The latest figures are the lowest of this year and are down sharply from the March peak of 674,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims fell to 519,750 and the latest weekly figure was lower than Consensus expectations for 510,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week fell a sharp 139,000 to the lowest level since mid-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 5,790,750 and have fallen 14.5% from their peak. This series dates back to 1966. Extended benefits for unemployment insurance fell and reversed the prior week's increase. Through late-October extended benefits averaged 523,061.

The insured rate of unemployment slipped 4.3%, the lowest since mid-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 24 were in Puerto Rico (6.4%), Oregon (5.4), Nevada (5.2), Pennsylvania (4.9), California (4.8), Arkansas (4.8), Wisconsin (4.8), Alaska (4.8), Michigan (4.5), North Carolina (4.5), and South Carolina (4.5). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in North Dakota (1.1%), South Dakota (1.1), Virginia (2.0), Wyoming (2.6), Maine (2.5), Texas (2.5), Colorado (2.9), Maryland (3.2), Mississippi (3.5), New York (3.5), Georgia (3.7) and Florida (3.8).

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

The Exchange Rate: What's in It for Prices? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  11/07/09 10/31/09 10/24/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006 
Initial Claims 502 514 532 -1.4% 420 321 313
Continuing Claims -- 5,631 5,770 43.2% 3,342 2,552 2,459
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 4.3 4.4 3.1 (11/'08) 2.5 1.9 1.9
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