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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Slip
by Tom Moeller January 28, 2010

The Labor Department reported that initial claims for jobless insurance slipped 8,000 to 470,000 following strong increases during the prior two weeks. Despite the earlier increases, claims remained near the lowest level since late August, 2008 and were down from the recession peak of 674,000 hit last March. Consensus expectations had been for 450,000 claims. The weekly gains raised the four-week moving average of initial claims to 456,250 .which remained near the cycle low.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week fell sharply to a new cycle low. The 57,000 drop reversed all of the prior week's increase and claims were down by one-third since late-June. Continuing claims were at the lowest level since mid-January of last year. The overall decline is a function of the improved job market but also reflects the exhaustion of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Continuing claims provide an indication of workers' ability to find employment. The four-week average of continuing claims fell to 4,669,250. This series dates back to 1966.

Extended benefits for unemployment insurance slipped to another cycle low of 261,962 during the second week of January and were down by more than one-half from a peak of 597,688 reached in November.

The insured rate of unemployment also fell to a new low of 3.5%. 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. ยท The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending January 2 were in Wisconsin (7.3 percent), Alaska (7.1), Pennsylvania (6.9), Idaho (6.8), Michigan (6.2), North Carolina (6.1), Montana (6.0), Washington (6.0) and Connecticut (5.8). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in Virginia (2.5), Texas (2.6), Florida (3.4), Wyoming (3.6), Maryland (3.8), Maine (4.0), Ohio (4.1), New York (4.5) and Mississippi (4.4). These 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.

Labor Market Globalization in the Recession and Beyond from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 1/23/10 1/16/10 1/09/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 470 478 444 -20.3% 573 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,602 4,659 -1.5% 5,835 3,345 2,552
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.5 3.6 3.5 (1/2009) 4.4 2.5 1.9
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