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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Unexpectedly Rise To Highest In One Month
by Tom Moeller December 17, 2009

Recent steadying in the job market stalled last week. The Labor Department indicated that initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 480,000 from a little-revised 473,000 during the prior week. As a result, claims reached the highest level in four weeks but remained down from the recession peak of 674,000 hit in March. The four-week moving average of claims slipped to 467,500 and the latest weekly figure was higher than Consensus expectations for a decline to 465,000 claims.

Initial claims during the latest week cover the survey period for November nonfarm payrolls. Claims fell 21,000 (4.2%) from the same week in October. During the last ten years there has been a negative 84% correlation between the level of claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payrolls.· Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week ticked up 5,000 after a little-revised 289,000 decline during the week prior. Continuing claims were at the lowest level since late-February. The overall 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 5,318,250. This series dates back to 1966.

Extended benefits for unemployment insurance retraced much of the prior week's decline with a rise to 503,100 during the fourth week of November. The latest compares to 550,343 during all of October.

The insured rate of unemployment remained stable at 3.9%, the lowest level since February. 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 28 were in Wisconsin (6.4), Oregon (6.3), Alaska (6.2), Nevada (5.5),  Puerto Rico (5.5%), Pennsylvania (5.3), Michigan (5.3), California (4.9) and South Carolina (4.8). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in North Dakota (1.6%), Virginia (2.2), Texas (2.6), Maine (3.1), Wyoming (3.2), Maryland (3.2),  Mississippi (3.7), New York (3.8), Florida (3.8) and Ohio (3.9). The data are not seasonally adjusted but the overall insured unemployment rate is.· The unemployment insurance claims data is available in Haver's WEEKLY database and the state data is in the REGIONW database. 

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 12/12/09 12/05/09 11/28/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006 
Initial Claims 480 473 454 -13.0% 420 321 313
Continuing Claims -- 5,186 5,181 19.1% 3,342 2,552 2,459
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.9 3.9 3.3 (12/2008) 2.5 1.9 1.9

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