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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Initial Claims For Jobless Insurance Fall Further
by Tom Moeller December 3, 2009

The improved economy pushed initial claims for unemployment insurance down to a 15-month low. The Labor Department indicated that during the latest week, which included the Thanksgiving holiday, claims fell to 457,000 from a downwardly revised 462,000 during the prior period. The figures are down from the recession peak of 674,000 claims reached in March. The four-week moving average of claims fell to 481,250 and the latest weekly figure was lower than Consensus expectations for and increase to 488,000 claims.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week inched up by 28,000 after a 176,000 decline during the week prior which was much greater than reported initially. Continuing claims were at the lowest level since late-February. The decline is a function of the improved job market but also reflects the exhaustion of unemployment benefits. Continuing claims provide an indication of workers' ability to find employment. The four-week average of continuing claims fell to 5,541,500. This series dates back to 1966.

Extended benefits for unemployment insurance rose w/w to a cycle high of 597,688 during the second week of November. The latest was  versus 550,343 during all of October.

The insured rate of unemployment remained stable at 4.1% 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 November 14 were in Puerto Rico (6.1%), Oregon (5.9), Alaska (5.5), Nevada (5.2),  California (5.2), Michigan (5.1), Wisconsin (5.0), Pennsylvania (5.0), and South Carolina (4.5). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in North Dakota (1.2%), Virginia (2.0), Texas (2.5), Maine (2.9), Wyoming (2.9), Maryland (3.1), Ohio (3.5), New York (3.5), Mississippi (3.5) and Florida (3.7). Most of these rates are slightly higher than their recent low. However, the data are not seasonally adjusted but the overall insured unemployment rate is.ยท The unemployment insurance claims data is available in Haver's WEEKLY database and the state data is in the REGIONW database.

The Fed's latest Beige Book covering regional economic conditions can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 11/28/09 11/21/09 11/14/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006 
Initial Claims 457 462 501 -11.6% 420 321 313
Continuing Claims -- 5,465 5,437 33.2% 3,342 2,552 2,459
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 4.1 4.1 3.1 (11/2008) 2.5 1.9 1.9
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