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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall To Last Month's Low
by Tom Moeller April 29, 2010

The job market is on the mend. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that initial claims for jobless insurance fell 11,000 to 448,000 after the prior week's revised 21,000 drop. The latest level equaled the March average and roughly matched Consensus expectations for a decline to 445,000 claims. Last week's figure was down from the recession peak of 651,000 reached in March of 2009. The four-week moving average of initial claims nudged up to 462,500.

A 18,000 decline in continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week added to a revised 23,000 drop during the prior week. They were down by one-third from the June '09 peak. 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 also fell to a cycle low of 4.639 mil. This series dates back to 1966.

Extended benefits for unemployment insurance increased to 202,215. However, they were down by three-quarters from a peak of 597,688 reached in November.

The insured unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%. The rate reached a high of 4.9% during May. During the last ten years, there has been a 96% 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 April 10 were in Alaska (6.6 percent), Puerto Rico (6.4), Oregon (5.9), Wisconsin (5.6), Pennsylvania (5.4), Nevada (5.2), California (5.0), Idaho (5.0), Montana (5.0), Michigan (4.9), and North Carolina (4.9). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in Virginia (1.8), Texas (2.2), Georgia (2.9), Florida (3.1), Maryland (3.2), Wyoming (3.2), Ohio (3.5), New York (3.7) and Maine (3.9). 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.

Employment Survey Delivers JOLTS from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta can be found here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 04/24/10 04/17/10 04/10/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 448 459 480 -28.1% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,645 4,663 -25.2% 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.6 3.6 4.6(4/2009) 4.4 2.5 1.9
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